Three more thoughts after a desultory night at the ballpark:
DEJA VU, IN A BAD WAY: I know that beat writers tend to think that all games start to look alike after awhile, but tonight's game was simply a carbon copy of the six that came before it. The Twins' Anaehim-Texas road trip was like the movie Groundhog Day -- every day, the Twins would give up a couple of runs in the first inning or two to fall behind, then just go silent as though the game was over. Sunday was an exception, when the Twins actually did put together a game-winning rally, but even it was of the same pattern. Seven straight games now, the Twins have fallen behind early. And in all seven, the Twins have scored in no more than two innings themselves.
(I thought coming home might shake the Twins out of it, as it did last week after a dreadful, shutout-filled stay in Boston. But maybe that had more to do with their opponent last week, the White Sox, than hitting in Target Field again.)
This statistic sums up what's been going on: The Twins rank third in the AL in left on base, with 606. That's usually a good news/bad news sort of statistic, because you've got to put runners on base to leave them there. But the Twins rank ninth -- ninth! (after being in the top three during April) -- in on-base percentage, meaning they're wasting a far greater fraction of chances than most teams. I guess a .193 average with runners in scoring position over the past seven games is a pretty good indicator of that.
WALK DON'T RUN? HOW TRUE: Speaking of on-base percentage, there's not much of a mystery about what happened to the Twins' offense. After showing incredible (and in some cases, uncharacteristic) patience early in the season, the Twins are walking far less. They drew five or more walks in 14 different games in April, but did it just six times in May and six in June. They coaxed 123 walks in April all together, but just two-thirds that many in May (81) and June (88). And as a result, look at the runs they scored: 131 in April, 92 in May (despite playing five more games) and 113 in June. I know pitchers tend to throw more strikes when the weather gets warm, but the Twins sorely miss all those extra baserunners.
5 O'CLOCK POWER: OK, on to something a little lighter. Ron Gardenhire was asked before the game who he would like to see invited to the Home Run Derby next month. Giancarlo Stanton? Yasiel Puig? Justin Morneau? Nope, the Twins manager had a darkhorse candidate. "One guy I would put in there with anybody is [Oswaldo] Arcia," Gardenhire said. "He's absolutely murdered baseballs in this ballpark during [batting practice]. 'd love to see him go to this contest -- I know where he hits the ball."