Why Twins couldn't beat Guardians

September 21st, 2022

This story was excerpted from Do-Hyoung Park’s Twins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Twins entered their decisive five-game series in Cleveland over the weekend needing to play their best baseball to close a four-game deficit between themselves and the division leaders. They couldn’t do that, ultimately dropping the season series, 13-6, despite actually matching the Guardians in runs scored (89-89) across the 19 head-to-head matchups this season.

What made the difference? Here are three illuminating numbers:

7: Losses to Cleveland in which the Twins led in the seventh inning or later

In fact, all six of the Twins’ losses to the Guardians before the All-Star break came as a result of Cleveland scoring the eventual winning run in the seventh inning or later. This also includes the 7-6 loss in the 15-inning marathon on Saturday to cap the season’s decisive doubleheader sweep by the Guardians.

.695: Twins’ OPS against Cleveland with runners in scoring position 

The Twins’ season-long struggles around missed opportunities with runners in scoring position were evident against the Guardians, as Minnesota went a combined 35-for-155 (.226) with a .695 OPS in such situations during its 19 head-to-head matchups against Cleveland this season, including a 3-for-21 performance in that 15-inning game. The league as a whole has hit .253 with a .742 OPS with runners in scoring position this season.
19: Twins players on the injured list by the end of the Cleveland series
This number spans all sorts of key contributors on both sides of the ball -- and doesn’t even include the loss of Sonny Gray after two innings due to his recurring right hamstring issues during Monday’s series finale against the Guardians.