Brunansky, Molitor waiting for bats to spark

May 5th, 2016
"It's a little easier to sleep, but it's not like I'm thrilled that we're over the hill," hitting coach Tom Brunansky said.

HOUSTON -- The Twins started the season with an 0-9 record, but the offense has started to get back on track. The team has averaged 4.5 runs per game since then, the 10th-best scoring output in the Majors over that span.

The Twins have the third-highest line-drive rate in the Majors this season, but they're 13th in batting average in balls in play, signifying some bad luck. They're hitting .215 with runners on base, the second-worst mark in the Majors, and much lower than their .276 average in those situations last season.

Hitting coach Tom Brunansky said the offense has been better recently, but he's far from being satisfied with the way the season has played out so far.

"It's a little easier to sleep, but it's not like I'm thrilled that we're over the hill," Brunansky said. "We're still inconsistent right now. And that's the final step, to see consistent at-bats throughout the lineup. I still feel like we're giving away too many at-bats. There's not a great flow to the lineup yet. Once everything gets in tune, that's what we pride ourselves on. So when we reach that point, I'll be able to have a good night's sleep."

Manager Paul Molitor noted that the Twins haven't really broken through, as the most runs they've scored in a game this season is eight. Last year the Twins scored in double digits nine times en route to finishing 13th in the Majors in runs scored.

"I think it's kind of leveled off at a better rate, but we haven't really had many breakout games," Molitor said. "But overall, I'm pleased. Still looking at ways to make it better. Obviously, we have a few guys here, a month in, that haven't really got it going. Being balanced is a big part of offensive consistency."

Another issue is that of Minnesota's 24 homers this season, 21 have been solo blasts, with only one three-run homer. Last year, 92 of the Twins' 156 homers were solo shots. Molitor said the randomness of sequencing hits plays a part in that, but that there's more to it.

"It's some of that," he said. "But sometimes with guys with runners in scoring position, you're trying to just get a hit [instead of a homer], more so than when with nobody on base. Sometimes you get pitched differently. There are a lot of components there."

All of Byung Ho Park's team-leading seven homers have been solo blasts, but Molitor has made sure to tell him he's been impressive making the adjustment from Korea so far.

"Bruno and I are trying to make sure he understands just how well he's done here," Molitor said. "His ability to take pitches is getting better all the time. Every now and then, he'll get an at-bat where he's overmatched, but he's taking the offspeed pitches better and laying off the high fastballs. So he's getting better pitches to hit. So it's exciting to think of what he could develop into the next four years."