Minnesota Twins: Contenders or Pretenders?

Aaron KrauseCorrespondent IJune 7, 2008

With the loss to White Sox on Saturday, the Twins have now fallen 4.5 games behind the Sox in the AL Central Division.  This begs the question, were the Twins playing beyond their years in April and May, or have the Twins just hit a slump? 

Well, I can honestly say right now that it doesn't look too good.  I'm sure that within a few days, all the "experts" will be praising the Sox and the Twins will be a thing of the past. 

I, however, feel that this is just a rough stretch of games.  The Twins have shown recently that their offense has the potential to score a bunch of runs. 

They have been top five in runs per game for the last several weeks, but seem to have hit a wall with the Orioles and ChiSox. 

When it comes to analyzing the latest slump, a couple of things to look at are the inefficiency of Carlos Gomez and the starting rotation.  Over the last week, the Twins are 3-4, with two of those wins coming at home against the Yankees. 

In that week, Gomez is just 6-of-28 with four runs scored and only one RBI which came on a solo shot in a blowout game.  He also has failed to steal a single base in the last week, which is a major part of the Twins' game plan. 

The rotation has not had a quality start from any pitcher this week. This is slightly skewed by Blackburn being knocked out on Sunday with an injury, and Baker only going five innings in his return from the disabled list on Thursday.  Livan Hernandez, who was a quality pitcher to start the year, has gotten lit up during his last four starts.  Over those four starts, he has pitched only 22 1/3 innings, giving up 44 hits, 26 runs (23 earned), and only striking out six. 

For the Twins to get back on track, Carlos Gomez is going to have to start hitting the ball, and the rotation has to get deeper into games.  The Twins still have two more games with Chicago.  Even though it's not even halfway through the year, these two games should have a huge impact on the rest of the year.  If the Twins win both, they will only be 2.5 games back, but dropping the next two will open up a 6.5 game deficit which the Twins desperately can't afford.