La Velle E. Neal III
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Bailey Ober pitched splendidly for six innings Saturday before the Twins made an easy stroll to victory a difficult one.

Detroit scored a run in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to get within a run. But fill-in closer Griffin Jax was nails in the ninth inning to finish off a 4-3 victory. At this point, the Twins will take them any way they can get them as they ended a five-game losing streak.

Fortunately, the offense was on point Saturday, powered by three massive sacrifice flies.

"Our guys did a good job of fighting at the plate today to get enough done to win the game," manager Rocco Baldelli said.

On Sunday, the Twins will attempt to achieve something for only the second time this young season: win a series. They are winless in their past five series after winning two of three at Kansas City to open the season.

We are only 19 games into the season. But the Twins sputtered to a 7-12 start and began Saturday in fourth place and seven games behind Cleveland in the American League Central. Short sample size? I'm not so sure.

I have concerns about the offseason moves, about the offense, about the rotation, about depth and about health.

Consequently, the concerns about their ability to repeat as division champions are valid. It's a remarkable assessment less than one month into the season, especially when most predictions including mine had them winning the Central again.

Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball operations, was handed a budget that was roughly $30 million lighter than a year ago. A challenge? Certainly. An impossible task? Certainly not.

But his offseason moves have reflected in the Twins offense — lots of swings and misses so far.

First baseman Carlos Santana, 38, is batting .123. His glovework is smooth at first. But first base is an offensive position.

Outfielder Manuel Margot is batting .175.

Lefthanded hitters are 4-for-10 against lefthander Steven Okert.

Righthander Justin Topa is injured, but this is not a huge loss as the bullpen has been generally reliable. It just hasn't had many games to close.

Righthander Anthony DeSclafani never threw a pitch for the Twins before needing season-ending elbow surgery. Their best trade chip during the winter was Jorge Polanco. The starting pitcher they received as part of the package, DeSclafani, will contribute nothing.

This is troubling because the Twins don't have much rotation depth. Louie Varland, Sunday's starter, and Chris Paddack have identical 8.36 ERAs. Maybe the Twins have found the impostors who have been pitching in their uniforms and have disposed of them. If not, the Twins don't have a rotation that can extend winning streaks.

The Twins are playing with fire here.

They are batting .194 overall with a .280 on-base percentage and are batting .140 with runners in scoring position. So they aren't getting on base, and when they are on base, they aren't getting home. The Twins were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position Saturday.

If third baseman Royce Lewis recovers from a strained right quad by the All-Star break, the Twins will be grateful. Shortstop Carlos Correa is out because of an oblique strain and hasn't tested it much. Meanwhile, the left side of the infield is dealing with a drop-off in production, defensive ability and athleticism.

Max Kepler fouled a ball off his knee on Opening Day, went 1-for-16 after that and landed on the injured list. He has missed 12 games because of a knee contusion. Another good defensive player out of the lineup. It's great to see Byron Buxton contributing defensively, but offensively, he's not driving the ball.

Just too many concerns to not be concerned about this team's ability to compete. There's plenty of time to turn things around, but that means roughly half the roster needs to get on track.

It normally takes two months for a baseball team to establish what it is, two months to make roster adjustments if it isn't the team it wants to be and then the final two months to charge into the postseason.

Drawing conclusions through 19 games can be premature speculation.

But in this case, it is reasonable to be alarmed.