The Cleveland Indians dodged a bullet on Sunday, avoiding being the first Tribe squad to go 0-7 on a home stand since 1990 according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. So that’s nice. Unfortunately those six losses dropped Cleveland to seven games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers and four games back of the second Wild Card spot. Truly this is, as a typewriting monkey once wrote, the blurst of times.
So it’s time again for a road trip, another grand jaunt west that begins in Minneapolis, Minnesota with the Twins. The last time I previewed the Twins I noted how sub-par they are in all phases and they went out and won two of three in the series. I’d change my tone, but this team is really unimpressive. Sure, Joe Mauer is Mauering like he does, but he’s the only regular batter with an OPS+ over 107, and one of only three over 100. They’re 12th in the league in runs scored, 13th in batting average, 11th in slugging and on base percentage and 12th in homers, though they are 6th in doubles.
You have to think it’s the park, at least in part. Whenever I see them play, regardless of who the visitor is, I’m amazed a ball can get out of there. From the sheer wall of limestone in right, the pillbox looking boxes in left, the 12 square miles of outfield grass, it just screams doubles to the wall. Perfect for someone like Mauer or Jim Thome, whom no walls can hold, but a guy like Josh Willingham? Frustrated. Chris Parmalee, who flashed such power in double-A? Now quite vexed. A declining Justin Morneau? Chagrined. Such is life in Minnesota. They have a heated field though, that’s kind of dope.
They’re pretty terrible, these Twins, but they have two things going for them. First, they’re not the White Sox. That’s just a bad team with little hope of going anywhere. Though as long as the Chicago Bulls keep pulling in money, Jerry Reinsdorf will keep the Ilitch way of doing things and plow that money into his baseball team. After all, he did say he’d trade all six Bulls titles for another World Series.
But back to the Twins. They also have a burgeoning farm system, headlined by Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano currently in the minors as well as left fielder Oswaldo Arcia and pitcher Kyle Gibson (who we’ll see this week) currently with the big club. Arcia is 22 and enjoying a fine rookie season. He’s hit 10 homers in 68 games with a .759 OPS, second highest on the club. He’s got a 66/35 strikeout to walk ratio and before being called up he posted a .313/.426/.594 slash line at triple-A Rochester this year. I don’t care who you are or how much you discount minors stats, that reads like a guy who will find success. Which is just DANDY for the Twins.
So that’s the Twins on offense. They defend pretty well, Pedro Florimon has a strong glove at short and Brian Dozier isn’t quite lead-footed, and that Mauer guy is alright. Outfield is about as alright as you can get. What I’m saying is, it’s unremarkable but not great defensively.
The Indians cannot afford to continue this offensive ineptness. They can’t score like the Tigers, but they’ve been near-silent the last week and were downright dreadful against Detroit last week. It’s not one of those “someone has to step up” situations because at this point in the season players are who they are. It’s really the reason why I’m a little disappointed they let Mark Reynolds go. He’s been bad for a solid three months now, just straight up miserable at the plate and a casual butcher in the field. But he’s the one wildcard this team had – he could suddenly go bonkers and start, well, bonking the ball all about the park. Instead he’s gone so the Tribe can have more pitching, and I guess that’s pretty cool. Would have been nice to not just lay a big, hideous egg against Detroit though.