5 Things to Watch For in Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners Series
5 Things to Watch For in Minnesota Twins vs. Seattle Mariners Series
After the Minnesota Twins went on a 10 game losing streak that spanned the better part of two weeks, many people had written off the Twins as legitimate playoff contenders and rightfully so; but just when all signs pointed towards the Twins packing it in for the season, they received a cure all scenario from the creators of the schedule this season in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers. If there was any team in the majors that had as much going wrong with them as the Twins did during the month of May, it certainly was the Brewers. Following a four-game sweep of the Brewers in which the Twins saw their offense show signs of life, their pitching staff return to respectability and their defense play relatively well, the Twins enter this weekend’s three-game tilt with the Seattle Mariners with a lot of confidence; but should they? A four-game sweep of any team is impressive considering where the Twins are currently at with their roster; but before we proclaim the Twins as officially back in the hunt for a playoff spot, let’s pump the brakes a little bit and consider the team they just beat and consider where they are at in the standings. Following the 10 game losing streak, the Twins have dug themselves a very big hole that they are now trying to get themselves out of and make no mistake about it, it’s going to take some time to do that and the Twins are going to have to play very good baseball for a very long time in order to accomplish it. In order to continue playing good baseball and inch closer back to contention, the Twins will have to face a Mariners ballclub that is going through a similar roster transition that the Twins have underwent over the past week. The Mariners are looking for a way to “right the ship” and ignite a dormant offense and their recent roster moves have indicated that they intend to turn this thing around at any cost necessary. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five things we should watch heading into this weekend’s series between the Mariners and Twins.
5. Was the Offensive Outburst Related to Poor Pitching?
Over their four-game sweep of the Brewers, the Twins scored a total of 24 runs and last night hit four homeruns. Granted the Brewers’ pitching staff is in disarray, but it is good to see the Twins’ bats start to heat up against teams the Twins should be able to beat. The Mariners will feature a pitching staff that will present more problems than the Brewers did; but with things moving the way they are now, anything can happen. The Twins are just as likely to be shutout in all three games as they are putting up seven runs a game; they are that inconsistent.
4. Can Chris Parmelee Continue His Recent Homerun Surge?
In his last series against the Brewers, Parmelee started to break out of his hitting slump by going 4-10 and even demonstrated a little bit of power by hitting two homeruns in the four-game series. With regular playing time finding Parmelee over the last few games, Parmelee is at a crucial time in the season. If Parmelee can demonstrate that he can produce when given playing time, he will be able to hold on to his spot for the remainder of the season. However, if he continues to struggle, it may force the team to take another look at Oswaldo Arcia in the majors.
3. Can Mike Pelfrey be Competent?
Pelfrey’s struggles this season have been well documented and I have written about them countless times to no avail. Pelfrey, for the season, has a 3-5 record with a 6.85 ERA, a 1.76 WHIP and a .333 opponent’s batting average against. Over his 10 starts this season, Pelfrey has given up four runs or more in six out of his 10 starts and has only completed six innings in an outing twice. Pelfrey’s last respectable start came four starts ago in Baltimore when he went six innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. Since that outing and over his last three starts, Pelfrey has gone 11.2 innings and surrendered 17 hits, 12 runs, 3 HR and six walks. Needless to say, the clock is ticking on Pelfrey’s time at the majors with the Twins and with the Twins beginning to play better, they do not have time to wait around for Pelfrey to figure it out any longer.
2. Is Aaron Hicks Emerging as the Prospect the Twins had Hoped for?
Hicks is starting to flash the power, defensive ability and plate discipline/vision that the Twins saw in him this spring training over his past few games and is finally looking like the talented youngster that Twins’ fans were craving since the departures of Denard Span and Ben Revere this off-season. Over his last 10 games, Hicks has gone 9-36, which averages out to a respectable .250 batting average, but also has hit three homeruns, three RBI and is currently riding a four-game hitting streak heading into this weekend. What may be more refreshing is seeing the obvious growth and development of Hicks’ defensive ability in centerfield. Hicks’ has made several diving catches and has robbed a couple homeruns during his debut season with the Twins and is finally giving the team some stability in centerfield after a rough start to the year. Finally, it is obvious from watching Hicks hit that he is much more relaxed and confident at the plate. He is taking more pitches and extending more at-bats when he gets down in the count and has to fight his way out of it. That is a sign of maturity from the youngster and although he has much more to improve on and learn, he is definitely starting to turn it around for the Twins.
1. Will the Winning Streak Continue?
This is the million-dollar question heading into this weekend and to me, I think this series will be closely contested throughout every game. The Twins have an opportunity to win this series if their bats can stay hot and their pitching can remain consistent and keep them in ballgames until the later innings. The Mariners do boast a decent pitching staff and despite their recent roster turnover, they will present some problems to the Twins that the Brewers simply could not. However, these are the teams the Twins must beat if they want to consider themselves a legitimate threat for returning to .500 and reentering the playoff and division chase. Unfortunately, the Twins haven’t shown enough consistency this season for me to endorse this as a likely scenario; but in the end, that’s why they play the games. It’ll be fun to see how this weekend develops and come Monday, we may know a little bit more about what kind of team we have been seeing over the past week.
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