Earlier today, I mentioned the Twins' struggles in both the run scoring and run prevention departments. If this June slump continues for the rest of the season, Minnesota may struggle to eclipse the 75-win plateau. In order to get back on track, something needs to start working.
Going four-for-four with three triples last night against Detroit, Denard Span apparently got the memo.
Becoming just the third player in the past 30 years to hit three triples in a game, Span may have kicked off the long-awaited improvement that we've been banking on for weeks.
Before last night's game, Span was hitting .275/.347/.367. The walk rate and on-base percentage are fine, but Span hasn't been hitting the ball consistently or with nearly as much power as most would like.
Although Span's ten total bases stole the national spotlight, starting pitcher Nick Blackburn's strong outing deserves to be mentioned as well.
Typically an atrocious pitcher in the month of June, Blackburn has held true to form so far this season. Before last night's start, Blackburn had an ERA over 12 in his June starts. After throwing seven strong innings while giving up four runs, that June ERA plummeted.
I'm still not convinced that Blackburn is capable of throwing league-average innings, but a few more starts like this would greatly ease my mind. Even with significant improvement, though, Blackburn is still the rotation's worst starter and would be the odd man out if the Twins were to pursue a starting pitcher before the trade deadline.
Today's rubber match against the Tigers will have a large influence on the Twins' mood and momentum heading into the month of July. A series victory over the Tigers will give Minnesota some breathing room (albeit little) atop the AL Central, while a loss would do nothing to help remove this atmosphere of losing from the Twins' dugout.
With Kevin Slowey (7-5, 4.79) on the mound while the Twins trot out a day-game lineup, though, I'm anything but confident.