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Twins are dangerously close to falling too far behind

Minnesota needs some wins against Cleveland to stay close.

Dark Star always used to say that you shouldn't cast judgement on the Twins until they're 50 games into a season. 

The longtime WCCO radio man used the judgement moratorium on advice from former Twins championship manager Tom Kelly, and on the six-year anniversary of Star's death, the Twins are 52 games into the season and on the brink of falling dangerously far back in the American League Central. 

At 22-30, the Twins are 6 1/2 games behind first place Cleveland and even further back – 10 games – in the wild card race. That's why games against the Indians Friday-Sunday are more significant than they normally would.

Lose Friday and they're 7 1/2 back. Lose Friday and Saturday and they're 8 1/2 back. Lose all three the gap is 9 1/2 games, which would put them in the difficult of position of having to chase down the reigning American League champions from a nearly impossible distance. 

Win all three, however, and the Twins are within 3 1/2 games. 

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Minnesota began the season with seven wins in its first 11 games, then proceeded to lose 14 of 16 before turning it around again with eight wins in the ensuing 10 games. Now they're mired in another slump, having dropped seven of eight and 12 of the last 17. 

Blame injuries?

Health has been a major issue in the first two months for the Twins. 

  • Ervin Santana has yet to pitch after surgery on a finger in February, and a recent setback made his situation worse. 
  • Miguel Sano missed most of May with a strained hamstring. 
  • Byron Buxton is on the disabled list for a second time already. 
  • Joe Mauer has been out since May 19 with concussion-like symptoms, and he suffered a setback on Thursday. 
  • Jason Castro sufferd a torn meniscus and is out for the rest of the season. 

At the same time, Brian Dozier and Logan Morrison, two of the bats Minnesota is relying on for run production, have been hit and miss, mostly miss. 

Dozier is hitting .233 with eight homers and 21 RBI but his .708 OPS (on-base percentage combined with slugging percentage) is well below the .856 OPS he finished with in 2017. Morrison's batting average is still just .198 with an even lower OPS (.674). 

Essentially, two-thirds of the batting order, not to mention starting shortstop Jorge Polanco's 80-game suspension, has been injured, struggling or both. 

Now more than 50 games into the season, this just might be who the Twins are. If so, it's going to be a long summer for baseball fans in Minnesota. 

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