By: Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
The Twins dropped the second game of their series with Cleveland in lackadaisical fashion, losing 5-2 on Tuesday. Even manager Ron Gardenhire was more demure than usual in his post-game presser.
“It’s one of those games that just didn’t go anywhere. Nothing happened,” said Gardenhire.
A bright spot, however, was Josh Willingham’s home run in the second inning that set a major-league record six games in the making.
Back in the second inning of the Twins’ Aug. 9 game at Chicago, Chris Colabello hit a solo home run to the opposite field. Four days and 46 innings later, Willingham’s solo blast at Target Field gave the Twins an all-time best 23 consecutive runs produced via the home run ball, breaking the mark of 22 set by the 2002 Phillies.
Gardenhire wasn’t all that enthused after the loss. Maybe because the Twins are 3-for-49 with runners in scoring position over their last six games.
“You can’t rely on home runs all the time. It’s nice when we hit them, but you’re going to have to drive in some of these runs with less than two outs,” Gardenhire said.
At any rate, the record is unique for a number of reasons; none greater than the fact that the typically light-hitting Twins were the team to break it.
Despite their chronic inability to homer at Target Field, the home-run binge has vaulted Minnesota into the top half of the league in home-run hitting – that is, if you consider a tie for 15th “top half.” Maybe a better barometer would be this: the Twins’ 114 home runs are just one off the league average of 115.
Minnesota homered 14 times during their historic streak, giving them a league-leading 20 for the month of August. Remember, this team hit just 15 homers in the entire month of April. Strange, right?
It helped that the Twins called up power-hitting rookie Oswaldo Arcia on Aug. 1. He hit three home runs during the streak.
Slugger Josh Willingham also returned from the disabled list on Aug. 9 – the day the streak began – and has homered twice since.
Justin Morneau, perhaps insulted at teams’ lack of interest in him at the July 31 trade deadline, showed flashes of his former self and hit three home runs over the weekend in Chicago.
Even with the streak, it would still be preposterous to call the Twins a power-hitting ballclub. More appropriately, they are a streaky-hitting ballclub, possessing no real power bat, but many average power bats.
The Twins currently have five players between 10 and 15 HRs (Morneau, Dozier, Willingham, Plouffe, Arcia) and four players that are within one or two HRs of double digits (Mauer, Doumit, Hicks, Parmelee). If all four of the latter players reach double figures, the Twins will tie their franchise record for most players with 10 or more home runs – nine, which was accomplished by the 2004 squad.
Ironically, the Twins could threaten another obscure record from their 94-loss team in 1997.
The 1997 Twins had eight players with 10 or more home runs, but zero players with more than 15. Zero.
If Justin Morneau and his 14 home runs get traded, which seems like a distinct possibility, the Twins could potentially find themselves with nine players between 10-15 home runs.
You can be the judge on whether that’s impressive or embarrassing.
While the Twins’ week-long home-run derby was fun to follow, it will probably wind up being an aberration. Not a trend.