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Minnesota's magic has disappeared

By Mark Bodenrader, MLB Contributing Editor

Twins team report

(Sports Network) - To the surprise of many, the Wild and the Timberwolves are having better springs than the Twins.

The defending AL Central champs are just 10-14 on the year so far, with six of their victories coming at the expense of the dismal Detroit Tigers. Minnesota has dropped eight of its last nine games and currently sits in third place in the division, eight games behind first-place Kansas City (17-5).

"There's something different about this year," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. "It's early, but still weíre not doing the things we did last year. We don't have that kind of intensity we need. I try to pump the team up vocally, but me, I canít do it alone."

The main culprit has been offense, or lack thereof; Minnesota has averaged 2.5 runs over its last eight games.

For the season, the Twins are batting just .246 -- third-worst in the AL -- after posting a .272 team-average last year. Only the Tigers have scored fewer runs in the AL than the Twins (88), who have belted just 18 home runs through 24 games.

Sunday's performance was no exception, as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to division foe Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field. A.J. Pierzynski drove in the lone run for Minnesota, which mustered six hits against the red-hot Esteban Loaiza.

Loaiza leads the AL in ERA (1.25) and is also tied for the league lead in wins (5-0).

Conversely, Minnesota starter Rick Reed suffered his fourth loss of the season (1-4), despite throwing seven strong innings. Only Detroit's Mike Maroth (0-6) has more losses in the AL this season.

"It's the same old story for us, no hitting," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're just not getting anything offensively, and I'm getting tired of coming in here and saying the same old thing, we didn't hit and we didn't drive in the runs."

Sunday's game was rather uneventful when compared to the first two contests of the set. A total of six batters were hit over the two-day stretch and both teams were warned each game by the umpires.

A benches-clearing incident during Saturday's game prompted three ejections. Chicago starter Jon Garland was tossed for hitting Minnesota's Doug Mientkiewicz with a pitch after Magglio Ordonez was hit for the second straight night. Minnesota reliever LaTroy Hawkins and Chicago centerfielder Armando Rios were also ejected.

WHO'S HOT

Designated hitter Bobby Kielty, who has gone hitless in only two games this season, currently leads the team in batting average (.339), home runs (4) and slugging percentage (.613).

WHO'S NOT

Mientkiewicz has gone 2-for-30 over his last nine games, with no runs batted in or runs scored.

COMING UP

The Twins open a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Metrodome on Tuesday. Following that series, Minnesota embarks on a six-game road trip with stops in Boston and Tampa.

04/28 16:34:40 ET


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