Bottom's Up: Toasting the Tail of the Twins Lineup
While The Onion was busy taking a pot-shot at Metrodome malaise last week, our boys were busy inflating the Dome with rare air. Back on June the 12th, the Twins were sagging at 5 ½ games behind Chicago, but after winning six straight and eight-of-nine, the club heads to San Diego with a deficit of just 1 ½.
And while the rotation -- with every starter going at least 6 innings since the 13th -- should no doubt receive ample accolades for the upswing, a more unlikely grouping of ballers is perhaps most responsible for the string of wins: the end of the lineup.
Consider that through the Twins’ first 67 ballgames dating to June 12th, the bottom third of the order produced a starting player with a multi-hit game on just 34 occasions (51%). However, in the eight wins over the last nine ballgames, a player in the bottom 1/3 of the lineup produced multiple hits on seven occasions.
Furthermore, over those same 67 games from Opening Day through June 12th, the Twins suffered 25 occasions in which only one or none of the starting players in the bottom third of the order recorded a hit at all. That was just 37% of the time that one, or none of the 7-8-9 batters recorded a damn hit. Since June 12th? The club has had hits from multiple players in that string of the lineup in seven of the eight wins. On four of the occasion, all three had at least one hit. That had only occurred sixteen times in the previous 67 games.
Brian Buscher and Matt Macri (sent down Monday for Punto's reactivation) should be applauded for both their outstanding and unexpected contributions at third, and also for their alliterative names. But for my dollars, Brendan Harris gets the loudest back-slap for his recent play. Since his transition to short, Harris has looked markedly more cozy than he did at 2B. With the bat, he’s hitting .421 over the last 7 days, with a .476 on base percentage, and a whopping slugging clip of .737 over that same span. Perhaps most telling of his production over the course of his season: the Twins are 13-2 when Harris has a multi-hit game.
The boys now head to last-place San Diego for three where they’ll face some tough pitching opposition in the respective forms of Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux, and Josh Banks. However, relating to my prior Twins vs. Yankees post at the onset of this month, I feel the series could serve as a valuable springboard as we head toward the All-Star Break.
After the Padres series, the Twins come back home for 9 straight against Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland. The Twins have posted an impressive 25-16 record at the Dome thus far, a number that may appear enhanced when noting the fact that the aforementioned visitors come to Minneapolis with a combined road record of 47-67 as of this writing.
Independence Day nears and the Bread Basket has proven, to the surprise of many, to be more than an A.L. afterthought. Not bad for a crew with a -2 run differential (Chicago is +71), that has produced an MLB-worst 46 home runs, a number halved by one stocky Florida Marlin second baseman alone.