August 30, 2006

Deja Vu (Royals 4, Twins 3)

I can handle one loss to the lowly Royals and maybe even find reason for optimism in the defeat, but dropping two in a row at the Metrodome to a last-place team in the middle of the playoff race is a little much. Save for Michael Cuddyer's huge game, last night's depressing story was the same one that played out Tuesday.

Instead of Matt Garza's best start to date being wasted, it was Boof Bonser's solid outing that was for naught. Instead of Mark Redman and his 5.85 ERA shutting the lineup down, it was Luke Hudson and his 5.94 ERA doing the same. Aside from Cuddyer's performance, the only real difference between the two losses is that Luis Castillo hurt himself in the second one.

The Twins went 5-for-31 (.161) with zero walks and zero extra-base hits against Redman Tuesday night. Cuddyer went 3-for-3 with two homers and a walk all by himself last night, but the rest of the lineup went 3-for-29 (.103) with zero walks and zero extra-base hits against Hudson, Jimmy Gobble, and Joe Nelson.

Twins fans have often shown a willingness to give a ridiculous amount of credit to opposing pitchers when the lineup comes up empty, but the fact is that setting aside Cuddyer's monster game, the team went 8-for-60 (.133) without drawing a single walk or smacking a single extra-base hit in two games against pitchers whose cumulative ERA was well over 5.00.

As if that weren't bad enough, both the White Sox and Tigers had come-from-behind wins last night, meaning the standings now look like this:

WILD CARD       W      L      GB          CENTRAL         W      L      GB
Chicago 78 54 --- Detroit 83 50 ---
Minnesota 76 55 1.5 Chicago 78 54 4.5
Boston 71 62 7.0 Minnesota 76 55 6.0

Had the Twins simply taken care of business against a 100-loss team at home, they'd be a half-game up in the Wild Card standings and only four games back of Detroit in the division. Instead, any dreams of a division title can basically be written off completely with only 31 games left to play and all that hard work in Chicago has been wiped away.

The good news is that the Twins will try to salvage one win from the series with Johan Santana taking the mound this afternoon. The bad news is that the team quickly squandered whatever advantage they had over the White Sox prior to the Royals coming to town and a trip to Yankee Stadium sans Santana, Francisco Liriano, and Brad Radke is next up on the menu.

In a season that has already seen more dramatic, seemingly out-of-nowhere ups and downs than any I can remember, if the Twins aren't careful their playoff chances could be on life support come Monday morning. Stupid Royals.

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