State of the Twins, Week 2: Lineup wasting hot streaks by Span, Hudson
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
A rare sloppy performance by the Minnesota Twins cost them in a 10-5 loss to Kansas City. But they're 4-for-4 winning series for the first time in franchise history, with three games left in their opening homestand.
Here's where the team stands after two weeks:
* Top of the batting order: So far, so good for CF Denard Span and 2B Orlando Hudson at Target Field. After going 4-for-28 (.143) with only three walks on the opening seven-game road trip, Span racked up eight hits in 21 at-bats (.381), seven walks (for a .552 on-base percentage) and eight runs scored in six games against Boston and Kansas City. Hudson also heated up at home, going 7-for-22 (.318), drawing six walks (.464 OBP) and blasting the deciding home run in Saturday's win over the Royals.
* The bullpen: Thinned by injuries, the Twins' relievers have held up well, with only a couple of exceptions. LHP Jose Mijares had three rocky performances in his first five outings and had a 6.00 ERA when he landed on the disabled list Saturday with an elbow strain. After three good outings, RHP Jesse Crain had consecutive bad showings -- most recent, giving up a three-run homer that all but put away Sunday's decision -- that boosted his ERA to 10.80. The rest of the bullpen has a 0.86 ERA with 24 strikeouts and only three walks in 31 1/3 innings.
* Batting with runners in scoring position: Bases-loaded strikeouts by 1B Justin Morneau and pinch hitter Jim Thome on Sunday were far from an anomaly. The Twins now are batting .157 (3-for-19) with the bases loaded -- they were 0-for-4 on Sunday, when they stranded 11 runners -- and .248 (32-for-129) with runners in scoring position. That's a good way to squander the recent surge at the top of the order.
* RHP Nick Blackburn: RHP Carl Pavano's horrible Sunday showing notwithstanding, the big concern in the rotation is Blackburn, who has allowed a big league-high six home runs and has a 6.05 ERA in 19 1/3 innings over three starts. Blackburn pulled himself after only 73 pitches on Saturday, when Kansas City touched him for five runs in five innings, and will have his next start pushed back a day because of elbow soreness. He's actually inducing more ground balls this season -- 50.7 percent compared to around 45 percent over the past two seasons, according to fangraphs.com -- but Saturday's performance was an example of what happens when he's leaving the ball up.
Closer Jon Rauch remains perfect, with six saves in as many opportunities. His closest call came on Friday night, when he gave up a leadoff single and had the potential tying run on third before striking out David DeJesus looking to end it. He's allowed six hits, one walk and one run (1.50 ERA) in six innings, striking out four -- and has yet to give the Twins reason to question his hold on the job.
HOW THEY STAND
1. Twins (9-4)
2. Detroit (6-5)
3. Cleveland (6-6)
4. Kansas City (5-7)
5. Chicago (4-9)
THE WEEK AHEAD
Tuesday: vs. Cleveland, 7:10 p.m. Probable starters: RHP Kevin Slowey (1-1, 3.48) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (0-1, 2.45).
Wednesday: vs. Cleveland, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (1-0, 2.08) vs. LHP David Huff (1-1, 1.80).
Thursday: vs. Cleveland, 12:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (2-1, 3.38) vs. RHP Mitch Talbot (1-1, 3.21).
Friday: at Kansas City, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-1, 4.96) vs. Gil Meche (0-1, 11.57).
Saturday: at Kansas City, 6:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-1, 6.05) vs. RHP Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84).
Sunday: at Kansas City, 1:10 p.m. Slowey vs. RHP Luke Hochevar (1-0, 2.84)
* All games on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.