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Why the .500 week?

By Josh Newman
Imagine if the Twins could hit consistently at Target Field…….

Well, okay, so they were able to hit a collective .275 last week against Kansas City and Atlanta, and their pitching staff continued to do their part, even though they were let down a few times by spotty fielding.

Were it not for their series against Kansas City, the Twins might have had a difficult week trying to get their bats off the ground.

Against the Royals, Minnesota made fools of just about anybody who stepped onto the mound for the Royals, and their pitchers were able to throw a lot right by the Kansas City hitters. A lot, that is, until Game 3 of the series.

But in each game of the series, the Twins hitters actually brought the wood. Jason Kubel smashed a home run in the first game, and Kevin Slowey threw seven shutout innings in a 7-3 win for the Twins. And in Game 2, Kubel and Joe Mauer each had two hits, and Delmon Young hit his seventh homer of the season to complement Carl Pavano’s eight strong innings in a 6-2 victory for Minnesota.

And in the series finale, both teams made contact often - except for the glaring fact that Kansas City made theirs first, and put the Twins in a big hole. A hole so deep that five runs on six consecutive hits in the seventh inning couldn’t erase a seven-run deficit. With two exceptions, no pitcher who suited up for the Twins was able to avoid getting smacked around by one of the league’s best, most consistent offenses.

Yes, that’s right: as of June 17, the Royals and the Yankees each led the league with a team batting average of .279. But like their division rivals, they have not been able to buy an extra-base hit.

The final was 9-8, and the Royals denied Minnesota what probably should have been a sweep.

The final series of the week pitted the Twins against the Atlanta Braves in a series that may evoke memories of the 1991 World Series for many – except this time, both teams play outdoors.

It was not a fun time offensively for Minnesota as they could muster only six hits the entire series with runners in scoring position. Watching paint dry was more fun than watching Minnesota hitters try and drive home baserunners. The first game was the only one that would satisfy Twins fans as the team lost two of three.

The series opener would have pleased anybody who appreciates pitchers duels. Francisco Liriano and Tim Hudson – who both appear to have successfully overcome Tommy John surgery – were locked in a battle that had everybody on their seats. Liriano had to see his team erase a 1-0 deficit, but the fact that he fanned seven consecutive batters at one point showed that he was up to the task. Finally, his offense rewarded him when Kubel and Young each hit back-to-back RBI singles to put the Twins on top 2-1. Liriano ended up striking out 11 with no walks in eight innings for his sixth victory of the season. Twins closer Jon Rauch struck out the side in the ninth to earn his 16th save of the season.

But that was it for Minnesota. Not only were the bats silenced from that point, but so was Slowey in the series finale in convincing fashion. The Twins starter was sent to the showers after 4.2 innings after the Twins fell behind 5-0 after two innings. Minnesota never recovered as they fell victim to a four-hitter by Braves starter Kris Medlen, who combined with Jonny Venters on a four-hitter in a 7-3 loss.
A 3-3 week? Expectations are high this year. This team is not only expected to compete for the Central Division crown, but they are expected to win it. How can anybody be satisfied after a 3-3 week?

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