Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/10 through Sun, 5/16
Record Last Week: 1-5 (Overall: 13-25)
Run Differential Last Week: -18 (Overall: -20)
Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (10.5 GB)
Last Week's Game Recaps:
Game 33 | CWS 9, MIN 3: White Sox Roll in Lopsided Series Opener
Game 34 | CWS 13, MIN 8: Twins Can't Recover from Happ's Hole
Game 35 | CWS 4, MIN 2: Sox Sweep Lifeless Twins Out of Chicago
Game 36 | OAK 6, MIN 1: A's Bash Their Way to Comfortable Victory
Game 37 | MIN 5, OAK 4: Sanó's Homer Keys Rare Comeback Win
Game 38 | OAK 7, MIN 6: More Blunders Lead to More Losing
NEWS & NOTES
The hits keep on coming. Max Kepler pulled up with a hamstring injury on Sunday, exiting the game, and it looks like he may need to join Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff on the Injured List. Kirilloff plans to test his wrist in the coming week as he weighs a decision on whether he can/should play through it. Buxton is still probably multiple weeks out, and at this rate, by the time he gets back... oof.
Further eroding Minnesota's outfield depth is the loss of Jake Cave, who was placed on the 60-day IL due to a stress reaction in his back. I'm not sure his absence qualifies as much of a negative at this point, but replacement Rob Refsnyder is no guaranteed upgrade. We won't be seeing Cave again until after the All-Star break, at minimum.
In other rosters news: Devin Smeltzer went on IL with elbow inflammation and was replaced in the bullpen by Shaun Anderson. Travis Blankenhorn was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers following his DFA. Luis Arraez was activated early in the week; his return sent Nick Gordon back to St. Paul.
Not many to speak of. Jorge Polanco had another solid week, going 7-for-27 (.280) with a homer and a pair of doubles. Trevor Larnach notched five hits in 16 ABs (.313), walking and doubling twice. Alex Colomé tossed a couple of scoreless innings.
That's really about it.
Miguel Sanó's game-changing three-run homer on Saturday night was a highlight – or THE highlight, I suppose – lifting the Twins to their only victory of the week (and their first real comeback win of the entire season). But in some ways, it just felt like another signifier of how badly broken this spiraling team is.
While it was nice to see Sanó finally accomplish anything helpful at the plate, the home run felt more fluky than assertive. He fought off a pitch the other way and was able to muscle it out on sheer strength. The baseball traveled a mere 349 feet, with an xBA of .120. Hardly a classic Sanó-doubter.
Sanó's home run was the only thing separating the Twins from an 0-6 week, so credit is due, but he went 1-for-11 with five strikeouts otherwise, and hasn't been sharp defensively at first base.
Fluky as Saturday night's win might've been, it was a desperately-needed break. Naturally, the Twins were unable to build upon it in any way. Sunday afternoon they were right back to their usual inept ways, watching an early three-run lead vanish as Kenta Maeda fell apart and defensive miscues mounted.
They went 2-for-10 with RISP and stranded nine men on base. Ben Rortvedt and Josh Donaldson committed utterly dumbfounding, back-breaking errors. The winning run scored on a strike-three wild pitch.
"Pain" has officially become the buzzword for this season from hell. The Twins themselves have adopted it, with those poor brand social media folks unable to conjure anything resembling an optimistic spin in the face of endless setbacks. There's really no other way to describe what we're seeing.
The Twins looked this past week like a team resigned to its fate. They were thoroughly outplayed by two clubs whose superiority was obvious and undeniable. Minnesota was outscored by 18 runs, and out-homered 12-to-7. The Bomba Squad is a distant memory.
Unfortunately, things get no easier in a grueling week ahead.
On May 5th, less than five weeks out from Opening Day, I declared I'd seen enough from these Twins to be convinced it wasn't happening this year. I so hoped they would prove me wrong. Since then they've gone 2-7 and fallen from 5.0 games out in the Central to 10.5 out.
Now we've reached a point where the Twins would need to pull off an unprecedented historical feat in order to reach the playoffs.
From here, they need to play at a 100-win pace just to reach 90 victories, and that probably would still not be enough for a division title or wild-card berth. Maybe not even close. The White Sox are on track for 99 wins and not slowing down.
With the way this season is playing out for the Twins, following Kirilloff's development may soon become a primary reason to tune in. That is, if he is able to return.
Do-Hyoung Park reports that that the top Twins prospect took swings in the batting cage on Sunday and plans to take BP this week before progressing to velo and off-speed.
A decision is yet to be made on Kirilloff's strained right wrist, but one figures to come soon. It's between undergoing surgery or progressing to a rehab assignment, according to Park, who adds that players have been able to battle through similar injuries in the past, and that for Kirilloff, doing so while delaying surgery until the offseason is a possibility.
From my view, if there's any risk whatsoever of making this issue worse by playing through it, I don't know why that would be viewed as an option. And how can there not be? The same wrist has bothered him and impacted his play in the past.
As losses continue to pile up and contention hopes fade to dust, the Twins have to ask themselves if it's worth pushing Kirilloff at all this season.
It's going to be a long week.
First the White Sox come to Target Field, fresh off sweeping the Twins in Chicago, and looking to further bury Minnesota in the standings. There's not much reason to think they won't.
Then, the Twins head all the way to Anaheim for a midweek makeup double-header on Thursday. I'm sure the players are just giddy to fly across the country to SoCal, play two games in one day, then instantly turn around and fly back to the midwest for three games against second-place Cleveland
Eight games in seven days, facing teams the Twins are a combined 1-6 against, all with no Buxton, no Kirilloff, and perhaps no Kepler. Not to be forgotten: a bad bullpen that is shorthanded coming off Maeda's four-inning dud on Sunday.
What could go wrong?
MONDAY, 5/17: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v LHP J.A. Happ
TUESDAY, 5/18: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lance Lynn v. RHP Michael Pineda
WEDNESDAY, 5/19: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. RHP Matt Shoemaker
THURSDAY, 5/20 (G1): TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Dylan Bundy
THURSDAY, 5/20 (G2): TWINS @ ANGELS – TBD v. LHP Jose Quintana
FRIDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Triston McKenzie
SATURDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Shane Bieber
SUNDAY, 5/23: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Sam Hentges