Twins collapsing despite Mauer's amazing season

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By beating the Rangers on July 18 behind eight innings of one-run ball from Scott Baker the Twins moved to a season-high three games above .500 at 47-44. Since then they’ve gone 9-17 despite scoring nearly 5.5 runs per game, because the pitching staff has absolutely imploded to the tune of allowing 6.5 runs per game, including coughing up double-digit runs eight times.
During those 26 games Joe Mauer hit nearly .400 with an OPS well over 1.000, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel both provided a .900 OPS with plenty of power, Denard Span got on base at a .380 clip, and Orlando Cabrera hit safely in all but two games since coming over from the A’s. Yet the Twins are in the midst of an awful funk that has seen every starter except Baker get rocked on a nightly basis and the bullpen cough up nearly a run per inning when Joe Nathan or Matt Guerrier aren’t in.
Detroit and Chicago are mediocre enough that the Twins aren’t completely out of the playoff picture, but at 56-61 and six games back in the AL Central it’s tough to imagine them making a serious run down the stretch. Sure, their remaining schedule is favorable, but the Twins just lost four of six home games to the fourth-place Indians and fifth-place Royals, and now travel to Texas for a four-game series against the Wild Card-leading Rangers.
In other words, by this time next week the Twins’ remaining schedule may not even matter. Even now, if the Tigers go just 22-23 down the stretch the Twins would have to go 28-17 just to tie them at 84 wins. And they also have the White Sox to contend with. Memories from 2006 of the Twins making a 10-game deficit vanish in 50 games make it tough for their fans to give up yet, but it’s worth noting that the Twins were 68-49 through 117 games that year, compared to 56-61 this season.
By the middle of August the 2006 team had clearly shown that it was capable of playing very good baseball and in fact were on a 94-win pace at this stage of the season. Right now the Twins are on pace for 78 wins and even that looks awfully optimistic given their performance of late. Can the Twins at least make things interesting this year? Sure. Both the Tigers and White Sox are plenty flawed and six games down with 45 left to play is very difficult but hardly impossible.
But regardless of the mediocre competition, favorable schedule, and memories of 2006 if anyone who’s watched the Twins over the past month can still conjure up visions of meaningful late-September games to close out the Metrodome … well, let’s just say that I’m jealous of their optimism. And wouldn’t mind a little bit of what they’ve been smoking. Right now their season looks like nothing more than a whole bunch of opportunities missed and great individual performances wasted.

Dee Gordon placed on injured list due to quad strain

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The Mariners announced on Tuesday that second baseman Dee Gordon has been placed on the 10-day injured list due to a strained left quad. Infielder Tim Lopes was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and pitcher Parker Markel was designated for assignment.

Gordon, 31, apparently suffered the injury diving back into first base during Monday’s game against the Rangers. The speedster is batting .280/.306/.367 with 14 extra-base hits, 27 RBI, 26 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 284 plate appearances.

Lopes, 25, will provide infield depth for the Mariners while Gordon is on the mend. At Tacoma, Lopes hit .302/.362/.480 with 10 home runs, 60 RBI, 58 runs scored, and 24 stolen bases in 403 PA.

Gordon’s injury comes at a bad time for the Mariners with the July 31 trade deadline on the horizon. He is under contract for 2020 at $13.5 million and has a 2021 club option worth $14 million with a $1 million buyout. A contending team might have traded for Gordon. Now the Mariners will have to wait until the offseason to explore that possibility.