As they struggled through a three-game sweep by the Royals in Kansas City, the Minnesota Twins looked like a team that needs roster upgrades
"It drives some points home for me, but I don't know if it drives any points home for the organization as a whole," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "There's a lot of things we have to do better right now. We're not playing good baseball going into the trade deadline.
The Twins will be in St. Louis to face the Cardinals on Tuesday, with the opener of the three-game series coming shortly after baseball's trade deadline passes. Whether new faces will join them in the dugout remains a question
But the Twins could use some kind of boost. Minnesota will carry a five-game losing streak into the game and is trying to hang on to the lead in the American League Central
"We've mixed some really good baseball in with some really bad baseball, and it's probably evened out to not good enough," Baldelli said
Among the team's issues is a woeful offense against left-handed pitching. The Twins are hitting a MLB-worst .219 against lefties with a .658 OPS
"There's no real excuse for it," Twins infielder Kyle Farmer told MLB.com. "We're just not hitting lefties. Sometimes, that happens.
The Twins will open the series with Pablo Lopez (5-6, 4.13 ERA) on the mound. He will be seeking his first victory since July 5, when he blanked the Royals 5-0 with a complete-game four hitter
Lopez struck out 12 batters in that game and walked none. But in his past three games, he allowed five homers and walked six batters in 17 2/3 innings
He allowed two solo homers in seven innings in his most recent start, a game the Twins eventually lost 9-7 to the Seattle Mariners
Lopez is 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA in four career starts against St. Louis
After trading starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery and relievers Jordan Hicks and Chris Stratton for prospects in two separate deals Sunday, the Cardinals' pitching staff is in flux and without a starting pitcher firmed up against the Twins
"It's a decent amount of talent that just walked out the door," Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. "It's going to be different moving forward. Some guys are going to get opportunities to grow.
Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty (7-6, 4.43 ERA) has an expiring contract so he, too, could get traded before the deadline. He was in line to start Tuesday, but the Cardinals are likely to give him a break until the trade chaos concludes
Miles Mikolas (6-6, 4.38 ERA) is the likely option to start. He earned a five-game suspension for hitting Cubs outfielder Ian Happ with a pitch Thursday, but he is appealing the suspension
Mikolas worked just two-thirds of an inning before getting ejected from that game, so he would be fresh enough to face the Twins. He has one career start against the Twins in 2018. He didn't earn a decision while allowing two runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings
Cardinals infielder Nolan Gorman is questionable for Tuesday due to lower back tightness. He sat out Sunday's game because of the issue, which has become a persistent problem
On the other hand, Cardinals infielder/outfielder Tommy Edman could come off the 10-day injured list Tuesday after recovering from a right wrist injury. He took a brief rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Memphis over the weekend and was 2-for-8 in two games
--Field Level Medi