It’s looking bleak, folks. With all the injuries piling up, it seems the Twins have finally reached their breaking point.
The game was close until the 9th. The Cleveland not-Spiders only mustered two runs on two solo shots off of Josh Winder in the 2nd and 3rd innings. Other than that, the bullpen was solid and shut things down. Jhoan Duran was especially great, getting four outs on four strikeouts, spacing out a hit and walk. Then came Jorge López.
López has struggled a bit since coming over to the Twins at the deadline. At times, he’s looked like his old self, but there’s been a few outings where he hasn’t had a good command of his pitches, leaving too many in the middle of the plate, and this was one of those.
After Duran’s outstanding stretch, López came in and allowed singles to Myles Straw and Steven Kwan, and then got Amed Rosario to ground out. Jose Ramirez was intentionally walked to fill the bases, then Josh Naylor drilled a two-run double to give the Guardians a couple insurance runs. Luckily, he dialed it in from there and got the last two outs of the inning without any further damage.
The Twins got a couple of men on base in the bottom half of the inning with walks to Gilberto Celestino and Nick Gordon, but strikeouts from Gio Urshela, Kyle Garlick, and Jermaine Palacios would end the game. No hair fondling of James Karinchak needed this time.
Minnesota isn’t dead yet. They still have one of the easiest remaining schedules remaining in MLB with series against the Royals, Angels, and Tigers still to play this season. The Twins also have five more head-to-head games with Cleveland and three with Chicago. There’s still time, but it’s dwindling.
After the sweep, the Twins are 4.5 games back of the Guardians and 2 games behind the White Sox. Fangraphs currently gives the Twins a 7.5% chance to win the division. Not impossible, but surely difficult.
Finally, if you’ll indulge me, I want to end on a more optimistic note. Is it disappointing how far the Twins have fallen since their hot start? Absolutely! However, I think fans would do well to remember how short-handed this team has been since June.
The point has been made in Tweet after Tweet and blog post after blog post, but it really can’t be overstated how serious the Twins’ injury situation has been. They have the most games lost of any team, by a wide margin.
#MLB Team Injuries Most— Keat_on (@keatN34) September 10, 2022
1,410 days - Twins
1,174 days - Reds
1,036 days - Dodgers
1,013 days - Nationals
891 days - Cubs
849 days - Tigers
793 days - Yankees
Currently on the injured list, you could almost make a full starting lineup, starting rotation, and bullpen. This doesn’t even factor in the significant time that Carlos Correa, Max Kepler, Sonny Gray, and Joe Ryan have missed this season.
C - Ryan Jeffers
1B - Miguel Sano
2B - Jorge Polanco
SS - Royce Lewis
OF - Byron Buxton
OF - Alex Kirilloff
OF - Trevor Larnach
SP - Tyler Mahle
SP - Chris Paddack
SP - Kenta Maeda
SP - Bailey Ober
SP - Randy Dobnak
RP - Jorge Alcala
RP - Cody Stashak
RP - Danny Coulombe
RP - Jhon Romero
Everyone on that list outside of Kenta Maeda and Jhon Romero was expected to be major contributors this year. The fact that the Twins have competed for the division at all this season, and still have a chance to have a hot three weeks and win it, is incredible.
Twins fans are always ready to be disappointed, but this isn’t just a Minnesota sports curse, it’s unprecedented bad injury luck. No one planned on playing an outfield of Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino, and Kyle Garlick in the most important series of the season, but injuries have taken away all of the Twins’ depth.
The Twins have a young, controllable team that will compete for many years to come. They can bring back every single player on the 40-man roster outside of Carlos Correa, Michael Fulmer, and Gary Sanchez if they want to, and Correa has expressed a desire to stay in Minnesota if the Twins can meet his price tag.
It may not feel like it in the midst of falling out of a playoff race, but baseball in Minnesota has a bright future.
Also, the Vikings beat the Packers so there’s still some good in the world.
- Nick Gordon, continuing his breakout campaign: 2-3, 2B, R, BB
- Justin Jefferson: 9 catches, 184 yards, 2 TDs
- Kirk Cousins: 23-32, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 5-3-1 in his career against Aaron Rodgers
- Jorge López: yikes
- Listen, let’s just appreciate the Vikings win