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