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Twins remain on a roll

By Josh Newman
Playing with enough steam to make a locomotive look silly, the Minnesota Twins won four of six last weeks to pull their record even at 65-65 on the season.

Minnesota has now won nine of its last 12 and now trails Detroit by four games for the Central Division lead.

So how did they do it? Certainly not with offense. Despite a strong effort from Denard Span, the Twins hit just .241 for the week and had a total of just 13 extra base hits. This time, it was all about pitching.

For instance, the starters were the stars for the week. Scott Baker made a couple of starts, picking up a victory and a no-decision for the week. August 24 against Baltimore, Baker picked up his 12th victory of the season in a very strong start. He allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings and struck out five as the Twins emerged victorious by a score of 2-1, their fourth consecutive victory. In his other start, Baker allowed three runs on six hits in seven solid innings but didn’t get the decision as the Twins rallied for a 5-3 victory over Texas on Sunday.

I would also like to comment on pitcher Brian Duensing. In his only start Friday, the lefthander picked up his second victory of the season as he pitched seven strong innings. During that time, Duensing allowed just one run on three hits and struck out eight as Minnesota emerged with a 3-2 victory over the Rangers.

I was also impressed by the play of pitcher Carl Pavano. Saturday in Game 2 against Texas, he allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings while striking out seven. Unfortunately, he was bested by Rangers starter Scott Feldman as Minnesota lost a tough 3-0 decision. For Feldman, it was his 14th victory of the season as he held the Twins to just four hits in 5.2 innings of work.

As a whole, pitching is the only reason the Twins played well last week. As a team, the pitching staff had an ERA of 3.17, led by the strong 2.76 ERA from the starters. As for hitting? Well, take away Span, and the Twins’ offense was about as spotty as it could get. The team defeated Baltimore 7-6 in Game 2 of that series and defeated Texas 5-3 in the series finale, but outside of those two games, Minnesota could barely muster and offense.

I realize that stats usually do not tell the whole story, but it is hard to overlook the struggles of several top offensive players last week. For example, Justin Morneau was held to just three hits – including a homer - in 22 at-bats for the week. Joe Mauer was also held in check. The catcher had only five hits in 25 at-bats for the week, and did not record a single extra-base hit.
In a nutshell, pitching is the only reason the Twins won last week. They will need to continue their strong pitching this week to continue to gain some ground. Monday, August 31, the Twins begin a three-game series against division-rival Chicago. They will then close the week with a three-game series against division opponent Cleveland with some great opportunities to gain some ground in the standings.


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