Twins must pick up play to avoid 100 losses

Minnesota's recent slide has put the Twins in danger of losing 100 games.

After the Minnesota Twins lost 99 games in 2011, it seemed unlikely that the club would approach 100 losses two years in a row.

But after this weekend's sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, Minnesota is indeed in danger of losing 100 games in 2012. The Twins' 5-1 loss in Sunday's series finale dropped them to 50-70 on the season, 20 games under .500 for the first time all season.

One year ago, Minnesota was 53-67 through 120 games. That club went on to finish 10-32 in the final 42 games of the year.

To avoid 100 losses this season, the Twins must now go 13-29 in the final 42 games.

"We're just not clicking," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're not getting our hits when we're supposed to. We're missing opportunities. Baseball is cyclical. … Right now we're going through a stretch where we can't seem to get any runs in and we can't find out a way to get the big hit."

The Twins continue their West Coast road trip with three games against the surprising Oakland Athletics before heading to first-place Texas for a four-game series. For a team needing to dig itself out of a rut, Minnesota will have its hands full in the upcoming week.

"We've got our work cut out for us," Gardenhire said. "We've got to find a way to get on a roll here and start scoring some runs. Once we do that, it's a little more fun baseball."

Minnesota hasn't be able to pitch nor hit as of late, but for a Twins offense that has shown some promise this season, their bats have gone cold over the past week. Minnesota managed just six runs in three games against Seattle and struggled with runners in scoring position — the Twins were 0-for-10 as a team with RISP in Sunday's game. One day earlier, Minnesota's hitters were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position during Saturday's 3-2 loss.

To gain any traction on offense, Minnesota will have to drive in runs in those situations.

"We missed plenty of opportunities," Gardenhire said. "We had people out there and couldn't drive anybody in."

Gibson continues to make progress: Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson, the team's first-round pick out of the University of Missouri in 2009, continues to make progress from Tommy John surgery he underwent last season. Gibson, 24, pitched four innings Sunday in a rehab start with Class-A Fort Myers. He allowed one earned run on three hits (including a solo home run) in four innings while striking out four.

"Had another fun night on the mound!" Gibson said after the start on his Twitter account (@kgib44) "Getting closer to throwing how I wanna be throwing and with more consistency! Slowly but surely!"

Gibson previously pitched in nine games (14 2/3 innings) for the Twins' Gulf Coast League team and one previous start with Fort Myers. He was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 34 prospect in baseball prior to the 2011 season.

Prior to suffering his arm injury last season, Gibson was 3-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Rochester. He struck out 91 and walked 27 in 95 1/3 innings. If Gibson were healthy entering the 2012 season, he would have been a candidate to earn a spot in the Twins' rotation out of spring training. Instead, he's spent the entire year rehabbing. It remains to be seen where he will begin the 2013 season.

Twins, Red Wings extend partnership: The Twins announced on Friday that they have extended their partnership with the Rochester Red Wings, their Triple-A affiliate, through the 2014 season.

The Red Wings began serving as Minnesota's Triple-A affiliate in 2003. Prior to that, Rochester served that role for the Baltimore Orioles from 1961-2002. The Red Wings were also the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1928-60.

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