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Joe Mauer Homers, Swarzak Roughed Up

Twins 3, Indians 7

It's hard to always have the right perspective on a season.  If your team struggles early on it can seem like the end of the world, but unless you play for Pittsburgh or Kansas City it's rarely true.  When you get to this point of the season however, and you continually drop games you ought to be winning, well, the perspective probably takes on a bit of a different view.

Now it's to the point where you have to start questioning whether the Twins really should be expected to beat teams like the Indians and the Royals.  Minnesota has better top-end talent, but that talent hasn't blossomed on the pitching side of the equation like we'd hoped.  When Twins starters take the mound this season it's like a crap shoot; if the dice come up snake eyes it usually means an early hole for the offense.  And a deep one at that.

Joe Mauer's 22nd home run of the year, in the bottom of the ninth, was too little, too late for the Twins.  After scoring a pair of runs in the fifth to close the gap to five, it was all the offense could manage against garbage arms like David Huff and the strugglig Rafael Perez.  And with Anthony Swarzak rolling those snake eyes, three runs wouldn't have been enough if the Indians had been unable to bat after the fourth inning.

Unlike Friday night's game, where the middle of the order was given a little help from everyone else, the 7-8-9-1 hitters went 2-for-16 on the night with just one walk.  Actually that skews things a little, because to be fair the whole of the middle didn't show up either; Michael Cuddyer collected just one hit, as did Joe Crede (who also picked up one RBI).  So really, the 5-6-7-8-9-1 batters were 4-for-25 with a walk.  Orlando Cabrera, Justin Morneau and Mauer combined for seven hits and a walk.  There isn't much more you could ask for from those three.

And so it goes with the Minnesota Twins in 2009, who have now lost 60 games.  Elimination is creeping upon us.  A 90-win season would mean a 34 - 12 finish.  An 85-win season means a 29 - 17 finish.  A .500 finish means 25 - 21 to the checkered flag.  I'm an optimist, but seeing the proof in front of us what's the most realistic scenario?  To add a little salt into the wound, both Detroit and Chicago won.

If there was every a time for a 12-game winning streak, it's right now.

#3:  Jeff Manship -- A scoreless ninth for his major league debut, striking out one.  Welcome to the team!
#2:  Justin Morneau -- A pair of hits and a walk, including his AL-leading 94th RBI on his 28th double of the year.
#1:  Joe Mauer -- Another three-hit night, including another home run just to the left of center field.  He's not hitting .378, 18 points ahead of second-place Ichiro Suzuki.

#1:  Anthony Swarzak -- Even the outs were smashed.  When Delmon Young makes a clutch catch over his head, something is amiss.
#2:  Joe Crede -- A hit, but six runners were stranded.
#3:  Denard Span -- Hitless in five plate appearances; not ideal for the leadoff man.