COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins finally ended their losing streak, but they started their most difficult road trip of the season with a series loss at the Toronto Blue Jays. With the Twins struggling on the road and against American League East teams, the Twins could find themselves in last place at the All-Star break again.
The Twins losing a series north of the border shouldn't be surprising. The Twins haven't won a series in Toronto since May 2005. The two winning pitchers for the Twins in that series were Johan Santana and Kyle Lohse. They were shut out by Roy Halladay in the third game of the series.
Not only has the Rogers Centre been a difficult place for the Twins to win, it has been a nightmare in other ways as well. On July 7, 2010, the Twins' Justin Morneau took a knee to the head while doing a takeout slide on a double play. He suffered a concussion and was out for the rest of the season. The series finale in Toronto on Sunday was played on the three-year anniversary of the concussion and Morneau hasn't been the same since.
After the series, the Twins headed to Florida to play the Tampa Bay Rays for four games. They then will head north to play three games against the New York Yankees, who the Twins have never had much luck against since Ron Gardenhire became manager, which I wrote about last week.
The Twins are having a hard enough time this year winning road games against any team, let alone AL East teams. The loss to the Jays dropped the Twins to 16-25 on the road this season, as opposed to 21-23 at home. The Twins actually had a winning record at home before being swept in four games by the Yankees.
This is a switch from 2012, when the Twins had a worse home record than road record, although they had a losing record in both cases.
The Twins have lost five consecutive road series since sweeping a two-game series at the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of May. The Twins are 5-14 on the road since then.
Minnesota Twins Have Been Abysmal Against AL East Teams Since 2008
The Twins also dropped to 7-13 against AL East teams this season. Given the strength of the teams in the division, this shouldn't be overly surprising. It also has been a persistent problem for the Twins over the last several years.
In fact, the Twins haven't had a winning record against the AL East since 2006 when they won 96 games overall. That was the Twins' third consecutive year with a winning record against the AL East, largely thanks to dominating the Rays and the Baltimore Orioles, who were consistently two of the worst teams in the AL at the time.
In 2007, the Twins split 38 games against the AL East and have had a losing record against the division since. Not coincidentally, 2008 was when the Rays had their first winning season and have been a consistent contender since then.
The Twins are 66-130 against the AL East since 2008. That includes two teams that won the AL Central and another that lost in a one-game play-in game.
This is why this road trip loomed ahead for the Twins even before being swept by the Yankees. The Twins managed to go .500 in June, but that was while facing weaker teams. If the Twins manage to win four of the 10 games on this trip, that would still be better than they have done against AL East teams, both home and away, over the last 5 1/2 seasons.
If they somehow manage to go 5-5 on this trip, the Twins might be greeted with a ticker-tape parade when they get home.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
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