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Zulgad: Don’t be fooled, Twins’ sweep of putrid Orioles means nothing

The Twins completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday with a 10-1 victory at Target Field that included an eight-run sixth inning in which Minnesota sent 11 men to the plate.

The previously struggling Brian Dozier began the inning with a double and came up again with two outs and belted a three-run homer to left field. The Twins’ offensive output gave them 26 runs in the series, while the Orioles finished with nine.

The Target Field optimists will tell you that the past four days provide reason for hope. That the Twins following a brutal 1-8 road trip against the White Sox, Cubs and Brewers with a series sweep means this is a gritty club that isn’t dead. Twins players might try to convince you, or themselves, that the club’s ability to display resiliency means chief baseball officer Derek Falvey shouldn’t begin selling off parts as soon as possible.

This is nonsense and anyone who follows baseball knows it.

The Baltimore Orioles are currently playing a brand of baseball that makes the 103-loss Twins of 2016 look as if they cared deeply. The Orioles are the definition of a dumpster fire and the only evidence you need is their 24-65 record. Baltimore is 37 games out of first place and has a run differential of minus-144.

That’s brutal but it’s not the worst in the big leagues.

The Kansas City Royals hold that distinction with a run differential of minus-186. The Royals (25-64) have a slightly better winning percentage than the Orioles — Baltimore is at .270 and K.C. at .281 — but those are the worst in the major leagues.

Did I mention that the Royals will be at Target Field for a three-game series beginning on Monday night? Kansas City was swept by Boston over the weekend and has lost nine in a row and 10 of 11.

The Twins were 35-48 on Wednesday when they returned after dropping three games in Milwaukee. They are now 39-48 and in second place in the AL Central, sitting 9.5 games behind Cleveland after the Indians  lost two of three to visiting Oakland over the weekend.

The Twins should be able to dispatch of the Royals over the next days before closing their 11-game home stand against Tampa Bay. That would give the Twins a seven-game winning streak and, still, getting the least bit excited about that would be silly.

The American League is filled with bad teams this season. Some are embarrassingly bad, with the Orioles and Royals leading that group. The Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Mariners are basically either sure bets or very good bets to be the AL teams that will make the playoffs. A mediocre club, such as the 2017 Twins, stands no chance of being in the postseason this year.

These Twins aren’t awful but they aren’t good. Beating up on bottom-feeders might make the beer at Target Field taste better but it means nothing. Falvey and general manager Thad Levine are just as likely to hit the detonate button on this roster today as they were after the Milwaukee series came to an end.

A year ago, the duo made a few deals at the non-waiver trade deadline that seemed to inspire the struggling Twins and got them back on track to make the playoffs. That team’s resilience was admirable and made that club even more likeable.

This team bounces back when it’s convenient and easy but there is no hope. Don’t let wins over the Orioles, Royals or any other team from the putrid AL Central (namely the White Sox or Tigers) fool you.


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