Rocco Baldelli was ready to resort to savage measures if it meant pulling the Twins out of their six-game losing streak and clutch.
“I thought about bringing in the petting zoo. Literally bringing in the petting zoo,” Baldelli said before Friday’s game against the Giants. “I’m still thinking about… what gardeners would have to say about it.”
In the mind of the Twins manager, the pressure and monotony of a long season weighed on his players and may have contributed to the decline. Former MLB manager Joe Maddon, who managed Baldelli when he was a Tampa Bay player from 2006 to 2008, was famous for engineering such antics as introducing exotic animals or magicians into the club -house to lighten the mood and reverse some bad results.
The Twins have been more prone to weird post-game adventures this season than pre-game. Earlier in the year, when the team was on a hot streak, a new musical instrument seemed to appear in the clubhouse after every win, from vuvuzelas to gongs. Starter Sonny Gray has slowly curated a mini Japanese rock garden in the empty locker next to his, complete with incense and a place for players to write notes in vanishing calligraphy brush ink.
It turns out the Twins didn’t need any offbeat creativity, as they came out of the doldrums by outscoring the Giants 9-0 on Friday at Target Field. The only tangible difference in this game from previous clunkers was the addition of Kyle Garlick doing what he does best – hitting against southpaws – after a 21-game stint on the injured list.
Still, the Twins (63-61) put together their most complete game in recent memory. The offense racked up nine hits, going 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position, including Gilberto Celestino’s double with the bases loaded that scored all three runners. Starting pitcher Joe Ryan allowed just two hits with eight strikeouts while arm relievers Emilio Pagan and Michael Fulmer allowed just one more hits apiece in finishing the shutout. Commissioning was error-free.
“You can build on this win in this game,” Carlos Correa said. “It was a perfectly played baseball game. And you keep that confidence until the next day, until the next day, until next week, and hopefully we keep it for the next 40 games that we have. rest. And just finish strong and get to where we want to get to.”
Maintaining this perfection, however, is always easier said than done. When the offense was strong early this season, the bullpen tended to blow games up. Then, when the pitching tightened up recently, the bats stalled. And the Twins don’t have much time to keep setting a loose end before another knot unravels.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Twins were three games behind Cleveland in American League Central, with the third-placed White Sox having lost just one game more than that. The race for jokers is only more difficult, with four teams ahead of the Twins, who are 4 and a half games out of position.
Before the Twins left for their fateful 1-4 trip to the West Coast the second week of August, they still held the division lead, albeit slightly. And as they returned from that trip to sweep the Royals 17-2 in three games, they immediately regressed offensively again.
The Twins face the Red Sox at home starting Monday before embarking on a trip to the White Sox 63-63 and Yankees 78-48. The following two weeks, the Twins will face the Guardians 66-68 and the Royals 51-76 home and away. The last series of the regular season are the Angels (54-73) – who won a three-game series earlier this month – and the White Sox at home before the last away games in Detroit (48- 78) and the White Sox.
All this to say that with so many Division matches remaining, the standings can change very quickly. Perhaps that’s why the Twins didn’t worry too much about their recent downfall.
“We have a month left of the season. We have the ability to go out there and have the best month of our year, the best month the organization has had in a while,” Baldelli said. “And we’ve got the players to do it. We’ve got the staff to do it. We’ve got the guys who put in the time and work as hard as you could ask or expect anyone to work, giving them everything. that they have .
“Again, this season I wouldn’t call it young, but we have a lot of season left.”