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Summer Could Be Cold For Baseball Fans In Bob Dylan's Home State

Byron Buxton and the Twins Face a Difficult Stretch This Summer

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Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, the host of High Heat, has already handed over a division crown. Never mind that it was on June 1st, and there was still well over half a season remaining.

“The Braves have no chance of winning the division,” he declared on the popular show on the MLB Channel. “They're ten games back, and they're not going to overcome the Mets when Max Scherzer and Jacob deGromm come back.”

He is probably correct in his assertion that the Mets will remain in first place, as will most of the other team currently on top in the National League. The Los Angeles Dodgers will not fall from a competitive West, nor are the St. Louis Cardinals likely to topple the Milwaukee Brewers in the Central.

The same story could be written for the junior circuit as well, where the New York Yankees are on top in the East and the Houston Astros will probably remain in first in the West. Baseball fans should see one team topple from first place, and it will likely occur before the All-Star break next month.

Minnesota has really benefited from a weak schedule for the first two months, having played only three teams with winning records so far,. And against those winning teams, the Twins have not fared well.

They were swept in an interleague series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they also were winless against the defending A. L. Champion Houston Astros. Besides the the big fat zero under the win column, Minnesota fans have to be disheartened by the way they lost.

In those two series the Twins were outscored 35-5, suffering three shutouts. The bouts of ineptitude cannot even be blamed on a bad spell for the first place Twins, for the two series happened weeks apart.

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The only other plus .500 team they have faced is Tampa Bay, against whom the Twins managed to win two of three. And that was when Byron Buxton was batting .400, a stat that has since fallen to .179 amid a one for forty two slump.

Based on their poor performances, the Twins days atop the American League Central may be ending now. The new month opens with three straight series against winning teams, the Yankees, the Blue Jays and the Rays.

Even if Minnesota manages to stay afloat at the top of the A.L. Central, those nine games are followed by a trip to the West Coast. The Pacific Time Zone has traditionally been a difficult challenge for clubs in the Midwest, making it probable that the Twins will return home with a team in front of them.

That particular team would be the White Sox, the overwhelming pre-season favorites to win the Central. Chicago's South Siders, unlike the Twins, are done with the Yankees and have fared better against plus .500 teams.

Aside from having an easier schedule, the White Sox have other advantages over the Twins. Manager Tony Larussa will be getting All-Star starting pitcher Lance Lynn back from the injured list this in time for the stretch run, and Chicago owner Jerry Reinsdorf will be willing to add to the payroll come trade deadline in July.

Because they have the good fortune to be playing in a weak division, the Twins should win enough games to qualify for the Wild Card. That situation, which would likely pit them against a division champ such as the Yankees of Astros, is far less than ideal for a team that has lost twenty three straight postseason games.




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