Another quiet night for the Twins’ offense. Here are some opinions from the Twins’ clubhouse:
— There were a lot of stiff upper lips in the Twins’ clubhouse tonight, but nobody seemed to be taking the 5-12 record since the All-Star break too hard. As more than one player pointed out, things were even worse during the first week of the season — remember, they were outscored 22-1 in their season-opening series in Detroit — and they managed to turn things around.
“We’ve been there before. Our first series of the year, we were kind of written off at that point. But we stuck together as a group and played well,” said Phil Hughes, whose personal six-game winning streak came to an end with Tuesday’s 3-1 loss. “We look at the big picture, what we have ahead of ourselves. We just have to win. We have to win every game we possibly can so we’re not worried about what other people are doing.”
Added Trevor Plouffe, “We’re still in good position. There’s still a lot of baseball left. The thing we’ve done great all year is not worry about what happened the day before. We’re not going to let it get to us now.”
Does it hurt that after three months of owning a playoff spot, the Twins are no longer a wild-card team, at least temporarily?
“Not really,” Plouffe said. “We’re looking forward to being in that playoff spot the last day of the regular season. That’s all that really matters.”
— I tried to suggest to Hughes that he pitched well enough to win on Tuesday, that this wasn’t a worse outing — three runs, five hits over 5 2/3 innings — than some of the games during his winning streak. Hughes turned the question on its head. Yes, he agreed, he’s been lucky to win games he’s pitched poorly, but didn’t deserve to win them, and didn’t deserve, he suggested, to win tonight.
He allowed solo home runs to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, both of them the long-and-loud variety, but that isn’t what bothered him. “Not being able to execute that first pitch to [Toronto catcher Dioner] Navarro with a guy on third and two outs — that really was a turning point, I felt,” Hughes said. The sixth-inning pitch, a 91-mph fastball, bounced off the right field wall for a double, scoring Edwin Encarnacion with the Blue Jays’ third run. “A 2-1 game, you’re feeling all right about things, but you don’t want to let them get any more,” Hughes said. “I couldn’t make the pitch I wanted to there.”
He said his command was off all night, and his changeup — which he rarely threw before this season — was probably his most effective pitch, perhaps the first time, he said, that’s been true in his career.
— Interesting that manager Paul Molitor felt compelled to call a clubhouse meeting before the game, trying to keep his team from pressing too much as their slump gets deeper. He also said he’s considering making some changes, including to the lineup — but nothing too drastic. “I don’t want to send a message of panic,” he said.
But he’s been thinking of some moves he might make, and we’ll see what he meant by that. “Sometimes there are times when you might have to do things a little bit differently. rather than tweaking,” Molitor said. “OK, let’s try something that might give us a different look.”
Molitor hinted that it might include a new leadoff hitter. Brian Dozier is batting .217 since the All-Star break, and he’s 3-for-16 in August, so perhaps he would move down into a run-production slot, with an on-base hitter moving up.