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Defense lacks as Twins drop two important series

By Josh Newman
Remember how I said last week that I have a big headache from watching the Twins’
inconsistent play this year? Well, it seems to have had a lasting effect on me.

After witnessing the team’s play last week, I now have a migraine that weighs me down so much that it is practically adding 15 pounds to my weight.

Here’s the deal: offensively, the Twins got the job done. On paper, a collective .282 batting average over the six-game stretch would indicate that the team was competitive and had chances to win. And they were competitive for half of the six games.

What’s more, shortstop Orlando Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 22 games before being shut out Friday night.

Defensively, it was another story. The pitchers had trouble hitting their spots over the plate. Nobody was a better example of this than starter Nick Blackburn. In each of his two starts, he failed to get past the third inning. He gave up a total of 10 earned – 12 overall – in four innings total for the week. In his first start, he was dominated by the lowly Kansas City Royals by a score of 14-6. That night, he was hammered for six runs (four earned) in just 1.2 innings. In his second start, he was beaten by Cleveland 7-4. In that game, he allowed six runs on six hits in 2.1 innings. Both of those teams are below them in the standings and the Twins should beat them in a three-game series each time.

If there were any highlights in the week, it was Scott Baker. Friday, he hurled his best game in the form of a two-hitter. That’s right: a two-hitter. He also did not walk a single batter in his nine innings of work and earned his 10th victory of the season.

The offense was also nothing short of prolific that day. Minnesota chased Cleveland starter Justin Masterson after just 3.1 innings. The Cleveland pitcher was victimized for seven runs on six hits while walking five.

The Twins’ other victory came in Game 2 against the Royals. The starter was Francisco Liriano. If there was anybody who needed a shot of confidence, it was Liriano. Allowing one run on three hits on seven innings does nothing bad there. I will stop far short of saying he is back in form, but an outing like this might make one put up such an argument.

Joe Crede also hit a three-run homer in that game to provide a good chunk of the offense.

Beyond those two games, however, the pitching staff just could not throw the ball over the plate with regularity. Anthony Swarzak gave up five earned runs on eight hits in four innings in his only start, and righthander Carl Pavano surrendered five runs on five hits in seven innings in the series finale against the Royals.
This week, the Twins hit the road for a seven-game road trip. Monday, they begin a four-game series against Texas, then immediately depart for Kansas City with an opportunity for redemption.

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