Twins monthly recap: August

Kennys Vargas debuted on Aug. 1 -- his 24th birthday -- and was a regular in the Twins' lineup all month.

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The Twins’ slide continued in August, as Minnesota was seven games under .500 for the month. There were a few positives, including a 20-run outburst against the Detroit Tigers, but there were still too many flaws all around.

August record: 11-18

Player of the month: DH/1B Kennys Vargas, .309 average, 4 HR, 24 RBI

It’s hard to draw up a better first month in the major leagues than the one Vargas had. He debuted on Aug. 1 — his 24th birthday — and was a regular in the Twins’ lineup all month. According to Elias, Vargas joined elite company as players with 34 or more hits and 24 or more RBI in their debut month. The only others in that group: Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols. Even as pitchers started to adjust to Vargas, the Puerto Rico native seemed to react to their adjustments. Vargas may be well on his way to earning the American League Rookie of the Month honor; he already shared that weekly honor with teammate Danny Santana earlier in August.

Pitcher of the month: RHP Phil Hughes, 4-1, 2.06 ERA, 34 K, 2 BB

Through his first four starts of August, Hughes was nearly flawless. He allowed just four total runs — one in each of his outings — and posted a 1.32 ERA with 30 strikeouts and just two walks. Hughes’ August ended on a bit of a low note as he gave up four runs in 7 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss to Kansas City. In that outing, all four runs came in the eighth inning as he and the Twins were holding onto a 1-0 lead. Even with his most recent start included, Hughes’ August was his best month of what has been a rather impressive first season with Minnesota.

Looking up: Though the Twins’ record in August wasn’t great, there were positive signs — especially on offense. Most notably is the fact that a few of the team’s younger players have continued to show that they can hit at the big league level. Among those is Vargas, who was arguably Minnesota’s best hitter in August. And Santana has continued to hold his own in majors while playing out of position in center field.

Twins monthly recaps

Looking down: For as good as Minnesota’s offense was for stretches of August, the starting rotation was, for the most part, brutal (aside from Hughes). Right-hander Kyle Gibson had his moments, but he was inconsistent. In three of Gibson’s six starts in August, he allowed five runs. Ricky Nolasco had a rocky August, too, capped by Sunday’s loss to Baltimore in which he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in just five innings of work.

Looking back: The Twins had plenty of games in August against division opponents, and didn’t fare particularly well against other AL Central teams. The month started off with a series win against the White Sox, but Minnesota eventually lost three of four games against Kansas City and two out of three versus Cleveland. The Twins also split a four-game series with Detroit despite scoring 20 runs in the first game. Minnesota then faced the Royals again, and first-place Kansas City took the series with a pair of wins.

Looking ahead: With the calendar turning to September, it means major league teams can expand their rosters with September call-ups. Though the Twins won’t be calling players up to help them make a playoff push, they will be bringing up guys who could factor into the future of the organization. The final month of the season will be an opportunity for those players to prove themselves while the front office gets a closer look at them.

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