Well, that's one way to win a game.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Minnesota Twins scored four runs — capped off by a three-run home run off the bat of Miguel Sanó — to claim their first win since defeating the Detroit Tigers 7-3 over a week ago.
But — and at risk of being an brutal Debbie downer — suffice it to say that the Twins are still not playing very well right now.
José Berríos was fine — his control was much improved compared to his last start, when he walked five and only struck out one — but largely unimpressive. The Athletics owned a 47.8% hard-hit percentage over Berríos’s seven innings and half of their hits — two home runs and two doubles — went for extra bases. (The below images are courtesy Baseball Savant.)
But, pitching was not the Twins’ main issue Saturday.
Building on a recurring theme, the Twins’ offense struggled mightily once again — the bottom of the eighth notwithstanding — going 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. As the team entering play on Saturday, the Twins owned MLB's third-worst offense, according to FanGraphs, in regard to win probability added with a cumulative total of -3.45 and the worst in regard to their Clutch metric with a -3.29. A lineup possessing as much raw talent as the Twins — regardless of the number of key contributors who are injured — should not be saddled with such consistent — and truly baffling — ineptitude.
While the distant rumblings of the developing storm that is the MLB trade season are starting to become audible, the fact of the matter is that the Twins likely won’t be partaking any time soon. But it is clear that something needs to change and probably sooner rather than later.
The head of the head coach — or in baseball’s case, the manager — is rarely the first to roll when teams underperform expectations. Normally, the first order of business is to tweak the lineup and engage in various call-ups and send-downs in an attempt to ignite a spark that turns the offense aflame. The Twins have tried this method and while the likes of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Kyle Garlick have largely performed well, the results have not followed.
The next change that occurs is usually the firing or re-assigning of various assistant coaches. The seats under Rudy Hernandez and Edgar Varela — the Twins’ two hitting coaches — must be particularly hot at the moment and one would think that either or both are the leading candidates to be the first true casualty of the season.
The Twins lineup is not performing to expectations and — rightly or wrongly — the hitting coach(es) are beginning to draw the ire of the team’s faithful. Would removing Hernandez and/or Varela from their duties truly impact the team’s on-field performance? It’s difficult to say with any amount of certainty.
However, an unfortunate downside of being a coach at the professional level is that your job can sometimes be renounced, even if doing so is simply akin to putting a band-aid on a festering wound. The Twins aren’t going to ship out Donaldson, Mitch Garver or Max Kepler — at least not anytime soon — and while DFAing Miguel Sano may make some sense on paper, the odds of it actually occurring are probably slimmer than none.
The Twins will make moves — and perhaps sooner rather than later — but the moves are more likely to do with anyone not named Rocco Baldelli on the coaching staff rather than a significant trade.
The Twins will try to pry the series away from the Athletics Sunday afternoon when Kenta Maeda (2-2, 5.08 ERA) goes up against Chris Bassitt (3-2, 3.54 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.
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