Twins hitting struggles continue against Red Sox, Maeda to return to rotation soon?

Kenta Maeda #18 of the Minnesota Twins delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning of the game at Target Field on August 18, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images))

It's not even July yet but if the Minnesota Twins aren’t careful, they’re going to give away the lead in the worst division in Major League Baseball.

The Twins fell below .500 Monday night after a 9-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Target Field. They have a two-game lead over the Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central Division, where all five teams are currently under .500. For comparison, if the Twins were in the AL East, they would be in dead last.

They have largely the offense to blame, and Rocco Baldelli is running out of concrete answers to fix it. The Twins entered Monday leading MLB with 742 strikeouts on the season, then collected 11 more against the Red Sox. They’re on pace to strike out more than 1,600 times this year, which would shatter the 2021 record set by the Chicago Cubs.

With 753 strikeouts on the season, the Twins are currently averaging 10.3 per game.

Baldelli’s comments after Monday night’s loss suggest there’s a sense of urgency in the Twins’ clubhouse.

"The strikeouts are not actually what’s on my mind right now. I’ve said it many times, you can win games and still strike out. We need to put better swings on the ball and find the barrel more than we have. The recipe, it wasn’t a good recipe for a good game or a win or anything along those lines. We’re in a tough stretch right now, this has not been the best baseball that we’ve seen from our group, but that’s it," Baldelli said. "One of these days we’re going to show up and this is going to flip on us. Not everything is up to chance, it’s up to us is what it is. We have our work cut out for us, and we have to figure out is what we have to do. Our guys know these things, this is not news to them. We’re going to have to figure out what we’re really made of, and the time is now."

To put salt on the wound, former Twin and fan-favorite Luis Arraez had his second five-hit night in three games Monday and is hitting .400 on the season for the Miami Marlins. The Twins traded him there for starting pitcher Pablo Lopez.


It hasn’t been the start to the 2023 season Kenta Maeda wanted, but he’s hoping being healthy again will change that. Maeda, coming off Tommy John surgery, is 0-4 with a 9.0 earned run average. He got hit by a comebacker in the ankle in late April in Boston, and was recently with the St. Paul Saints rehabbing his way back from a right triceps injury.

He could be back on the mound as soon as Friday in Detroit.

"The next step would be to get a win in the big leagues and I think that would perfect everything. To get that first win is huge, and just to be able to pitch well in the big leagues, I think that goes a long way for the rest of the season," Maeda said Monday.

The concern was his latest arm injury was related to having Tommy John surgery, but he said it’s just part of the process of coming back.

"It’s actually not that stressful because I think everyone goes through something like this coming back from Tommy John surgery. People go through this all the time, and I’m doing my best for a comeback," Maeda said. "I’ll just consider it part of that whole entire progress, so not that stressful."

The Twins are 3-4 on their current 10-game home stand, with three left against the Red Sox.