The Twins' 5-2 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night moved them to 1-1 on their current six game road trip against the Tigers and Indians, but it was another loss in a game that felt like it should have been a win. And it once again featured a key free agent signing, in this case Addison Reed, underperforming.
Reed allowed five singles and four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a 2-1 lead and a terrific Jose Berrios outing, into a loss.
Everyone working for the Twins (29-35) knows that a lot has to go right over the course of a 162 game season. But the only thing giving the team hope must be that it’s still in the playoff race, just 5½ games back of Cleveland, despite so many things going wrong.
The front office also has to be hoping that its big collection of free agent signings and trade acquisitions is going to start to contribute more because they have struggled overall.
While fans might look to the combined absences of Joe Mauer, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Ervin Santana, Jorge Polanco and Jason Castro to injuries and suspension as the biggest reason for their clunky start, there’s no question that their new players are playing below expectation.
Logan Morrison, signed to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million, is hitting .191, easily the lowest mark of his career and after hitting .244 in May he has regressed again, hitting .156 in June.
Jake Odorizzi, who was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, is pitching almost identically to last season when he went 10-8 with a 4.14 ERA. But the Twins were hoping to see Odorizzi get closer to his 2015 and 2016 performances. He has struck out 8.9 hitters per nine innings, which is a career high, but his 3.8 walks per nine is well above his 3.0 career average.
And much like Morrison, Odorizzi struggled early, then posted a 2.43 ERA in six starts from late April to late May but is now struggling again. He’s posted a 7.90 ERA in his past three starts.
Lance Lynn, one-year, $12 million, is having the worst season of his career setting highs in ERA (5.08), WHIP (1.677) and walks per nine (5.8). But Lynn has shown promise of late going 3-0 in his past four starts with a 1.46 ERA in 24⅔ innings.
Reed, two-years, $16.75 million, has been unimpressive with a 3.78 ERA that is miles away from his 2.40 ERA over his past two seasons with the Mets and Red Sox. Wednesday he moved his record to 1-5, which doesn't even account for his three blown saves. The Twins are 12-20 when he pitches.
Meanwhile Zach Duke, one-year, $2.15 million, has lived up to expectations after being signed following an injury shortened 2017. He's struck out 25 in 23 innings and after a rough start he has a 1.33 ERA in his last 26 appearances.
Fernando Rodney, one-year, $4.5 million, has been stellar after a very rough start, at one point converting 13 straight saves while allowing just one run. But he has lost two games and blown three saves in 24 appearances.
On top of that Rodney, Duke and Reed have been responsible for two walk-off losses each as the Twins tied the MLB record with eight walk-off losses in their first 50 games. The other two were by Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers.
The Twins’ greatest success, and the only reason they remain in the American League Central race, is their 14-9 divisional record.
They’ve really struggled in one-run games, where they are 3-13, the worst mark in baseball.
In eight of those 13 games they have scored three runs or fewer and their hitting really has abandoned them. They’re hitting .199 in 457 at-bats in one-run losses compared to their .241 average overall.
Meanwhile their pitching has been excellent in one-run losses with a 3.47 ERA in 122 innings compared to a 4.16 ERA on the season.
If the Twins are going to have any chance of gaining ground on Cleveland, they’re going to need to improve the record in those games and continue to win inside the division. Wednesday night’s loss was a step in the wrong direction.
Wild will regret Tuch
With Washington ending Las Vegas’ dream season and playoff run, former North Stars GM Lou Nanne talked about the Wild's decision to send Alex Tuch to the Golden Knights.
Tuch was the Wild's No. 1 draft pick in 2015 and in the postseason he had 10 points, and tied for the team lead with three power play goals.
“I personally thought they underestimated him,” Nanne said. “He came up early like a lot of youngsters will do when they’re first getting their feet wet in the NHL. He was adequate and not great, but again he’s still 20 years old, 21 years old, you have to be careful at that time.
“I once said to [former Montreal Canadians General Manager] Sammy Pollock, who I think is the best general manager ever, I said, ‘How long do you go before you let a player go?’ And he said, ‘I wait until they’re 23 because by then he should have been mature enough and should have showed his skills. If I like what I see I keep them and if I don’t, I get rid of them.’ ”
On another topic, Nanne said that Warroad native T.J. Oshie reminded the hockey world of what a stellar player he was over the course of the Stanley Cup Finals as he helped Washington to the title and had one goal and five assists in five games.
“He was tremendous in the playoffs,” Nanne said. “He was really one of the keys to them winning, not only because of how he produced offensively but his line was sort of the shutdown line at home against the No. 1 line of Vegas, [William] Karlsson, [Jonathan] Marchessault and [Reilly] Smith.”
• Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was asked about coach Mike Zimmer saying the transition to a new offensive coordinator has been seamless.
“I appreciate Coach saying that,” said DeFilippo. “I take a lot of pride in trying to make this offense look how Coach wants it to look and spend a lot of time doing that. The fact that he said that means a lot to me. Coach and I have a tremendous relationship. We enjoy talking football. We’re both football junkies.”
• The latest ESPN NBA mock draft has the Timberwolves drafting Keita Bates-Diop out of Ohio State in the first round and Justin Jackson of Maryland in the second round. ESPN also has Apple Valley native Gary Trent Jr. going in the second round.
• Matthew Hurt of Rochester had 12 points in Team USA's 115-71 win over Puerto Rico in the FIBA U-18 Championships in Canada on Tuesday.