Minnesota Twins: Pitching Must Improve To Win Against Boston Red Sox

By Brandon Raper
Jesse Johnson – USA Today Sports

For the Minnesota Twins, the upcoming series against the Boston Red Sox is going to be a barometer for the rest of the regular season. Following a series loss to the Chicago White Sox, the Twins’ high-powered offense is being undone by some untimely runs given up by the pitching staff, and if they’re going to stay above the .500 mark, they can start by turning it around against Boston.

If you just looked at Minnesota’s offense, you wouldn’t believe they’re only 7-7 for the month of May. In their seven losses, though, the Twins have given up six or more runs in all but one. They only reached that mark in two of their wins, and in game one against the Red Sox in Boston, they were able to counter that with 15 of their own.

The defense has been solid with an overall .987 fielding percentage and 41 turned double plays. Offensively, Joe Mauer is off to his usual hot batting start, hitting .462 in May (.349 overall), but in a report for 1500ESPN.com, columnist Phil Mackey makes an excellent point about the state of the offense:

“But for the most part, the Twins — as individuals — are doing anything but playing out-of-their-minds hot. Josh Willingham just re-emerged back above the Mendoza Line. Aaron Hicks just woke up on Tuesday. Justin Morneau is driving in runs, but he has only two home runs. Ryan Doumit has mostly struggled. Same for Brian Dozier and Chris Parmelee.”

The Twins have long been known for their particular brand of small ball play, but for the team to make any move above .500, they’re going to have to win some lower-scoring games than they have of late. That can start with a win against the Red Sox on Friday.

Vance Worley is the not-so-proud owner of a 1-4 record to go with his 7.15 ERA. In his last start against Boston, he gave up nine hits and three runs in five innings pitched. Boston is a hot-hitting team, and that kind of performance simply can’t continue if the Twins are going to be a winning team.

Clay Buchholz will be starting opposite Worley to open the series at Target Field, and he’s coming in with a 6-0 record to go with his 1.69 ERA. The Twins bullpen has been relatively solid this year, led by relievers Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak, but if they find themselves in a hole early on Friday, they may not be able to dig out of it.

The good news? The Twins were still able to take three of four from the Red Sox in Boston earlier this month, and a series win in Minneapolis this weekend would go a long way towards a step up in the AL Central.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer and MLB contributor for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or add him to your Google+ network.

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