Twins first to arrive at (series) party; last to leave
|Image via The She-Creature|
|The Twins are proving low on fuel at the end of a party.|
Sunday's series-closing loss to Atlanta while playing with a wholly anemic lineup (sporting three guys hitting .160 or worse) served as more than just the club's mere fifth Interleague series loss since '06, and evidence of the team's year-long injury woes. Rather, the ugly 7-3 defeat continued a concerning, dichotomic pattern of series-opening vs. series-closing performances as we near the half-way point of the campaign.
Through 21 series this year, the Twins own an exceptional 15-6 record in series opening games. Taking away their two two-game series on the year, the club is an awesome 15-4. But inversely, in their 21 series closers the Boys are just 9-12 (and 8-11 minus the two-gamers). Further evidence of the pattern can be viewed via the club's five consecutive series-opening wins versus their four straight series-closing defeats.
Not surprisingly, the run differentials follow suit. In series-openers, the Twins have scored 108 runs to their opponents' collective 63 -- said totals average out to a 5.14 - 3, run differential per game. Per the series-closers, the club still owns a slightly high run margin than opponents (4.57 - 4.48), however it doesn't require a TI81 calculator to observe that the Boys are averaging more than a half-run more in the openers, while the pitchers are allowing nearly 1.5 more runs in the closers.
If the Twins' sported a top-heavy staff, perhaps the reasoning for such imbalance would be easier to come by, as if to say, "Well, we had a scrub starting a heavy portion of those games." But seeing as the club owns one of baseball's most fleshed-out rotations (hell, our supposed No. 5 starter has 29 more K's than anyone else), the answer can't be found there.
|Image via Wiki|
Again, there's no denying that injuries are a factor, which is to offer that the club should receive praise for their 36-27 record and 1st Place standing in the Central while too often being forced to pencil in a lineup card with the likes of lesser personnel.
But the search for an answer may navigate around stats and instead magnify upon a single word: Concentration. I won't be so bold to assume what the club is "thinking" or "feeling" (or lack thereof) on certain days, but there's enough juice through 60+ ballgames into the season to squeeze that the Twins are defining themselves in series' with the March maxim: "Enter like a lion, leave like a lamb."
With a tough Interleague draw (which will continue to display some menacing starters) and seven of their eight ensuing series' against teams with plus-.500 marks -- the Twins may need to start marching to some series-ending focus, lest they continue to crash on couches post-party and perhaps find themselves stooping to an unwarranted Divisional race come the All-Star break next month.