Since Twins added pitching, hitting has been an issue
Since Aug. 3, the day after the major league trade deadline, are hitting .198 with RISP
The Minnesota Twins’ trade deadline haul was immediately judged to be a win for a team ready to put some distance between itself and the rest of the American League Central. It hasn’t worked out that way.
Since Aug. 3, the first day the Twins had their new relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer available in the bullpen, the Twins are 4-6 and their one-game lead in the American League Central has turned into a 2½-game deficit heading into Monday night’s game against Kansas City at Target Field.
That doesn’t mean the deals aren’t bearing fruit. While Lopez has a blown save, and Fulmer has taken a loss, the two pitched in all four of their victories. Same with Tyler Mahle, 1-0 with a 3.00 earned-run average in two starts.
The issue for Minnesota, especially during a 1-4 road trip through Southern California last week, has been hitting — particularly with runners in scoring position.
Since Aug. 3, the Twins are hitting .236 as a team — 10 points below the major league average — and .198 (17 for 86) with runners in scoring position. In those 10 games, the Twins have stranded 77 runners.
“It’s just trying to get a good line drive and getting a good pitch to hit,” manager Rocco Baldelli said Monday. “The more you try to do with runners in scoring position, the more difficult the task gets. The less success you have, the more anxiety you feel because you feel like you have to get the job done.”
According to statmuse.com/mlb, the Twins rank 10th overall this season in batting with RISP with a .250 average. During a five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, the Twins were 6 for 35 with RISP, a .171 average.
“I think relaxing and just refocusing on hitting a good line drive, and finding the barrel — just simply not trying to do too much — I honestly think that’s one of the best things that you can do when there are guys on base,” Baldelli said.
LEFT OF DIALED-IN
Part of the issue seems to be left-handed starters. The Twins were set to face lefty Kris Bubic on Monday, making it their fifth against a left-handed starter in their past six games. In the four previous games against lefties, they were 1-3.
It’s not so much that they weren’t hitting them — they had 19 combined hits in 23 innings pitched against the past four left-handed starters — it’s that they weren’t scoring, averaging 1.75 runs against those lefties.
“We haven’t scored runs and we’ve been facing a lot of left-handed pitching, so there’s no way around those two things,” Baldelli said. “It is a little bit of a change. It’s been a different type of run of games and we have to adjust.
“We have some good bats that are good, productive major league bats against left-handed pitching.”
For the season, the Twins are 18-16 when facing a left-handed starter, and center fielder Byron Buxton has nine home runs and a .641 slugging percentage against lefties this season.
One batter missing during this run has been outfielder Kyle Garlick, who typically platoon starts against lefties and is hitting .279 (17 for 61) with an OPS of .928 against them this season. Garlick is on the injured list after damaging cartilage in his chest trying to chase down a home run June 29 at San Diego.
“Still some pain there,” Garlick said Monday. “I did some light medicine ball tosses the other day, dry swings today is the next progression. But it’s frustrating. I still feel it.”
It’s been particularly hard to miss a string of games against left-handed starters. “That’s frustrating in itself, as well,” he said.
“I’ll be back before the end of the season,” Garlick added. “It’s just pain tolerance, trying to let it calm down, do its thing and not rush back. But, honestly, I’d like to be back as quick as possible.”
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