Twins offense struggling early and often

(The Boston Red Sox host the Minnesota Twins tonight at 7 ET on ESPN.)

The Boston Red Sox started 2-10, but have rebounded to win 14 of their next 22 games. Their bats have slightly been better over the last 22 games, but it’s the pitching that’s made a dramatic turnaround.

Boston’s team ERA is 3.04 over the last 22 games after a 6.79 ERA in its first 12 games.

While Boston’s begun to turn things around, the Minnesota Twins have not. At 12-20, the Twins are off to their worst 32-game start under manager Ron Gardenhire.

The Twins' main problem has been an anemic offense. They rank near the bottom in most statistical offensive categories, and are last in home runs (15), RBI (92) and on-base percentage (.292). They’ve been particularly bad at Fenway Park in recent years. Since 2008, Minnesota is 1-9 at Fenway Park, scoring a total of 32 runs in those games. And their team ERA has been 7.15.

Minnesota’s offensive struggles start early in games. The Twins are hitting .216 and scoring less than a run in the first three innings. (Last season, they hit .274 and averaged 1.7 runs in the first three innings of games.) Don’t expect things to get much better tonight. In six starts this season, Josh Beckett has allowed one earned run in the first three innings.

Imagine how much worse things would be for Minnesota’s offense if Denard Span and Jason Kubel weren’t hitting. The two have a combined batting average of .320 with four home runs. The rest of the team is barely hitting over the Mendoza Line (.204) with 10 home runs in 825 at-bats.

Justin Morneau

MorneauThings have been especially bad for Justin Morneau, who missed five games with the flu in mid-April, and has struggled ever since. In his last 11 games, Morneau is hitting .132 with one extra-base hit and two RBI. Morneau remains stuck on one home run in 99 at-bats this season.

Morneau is hoping that the rest of his season mirrors the last time his average was this low at this time of the season. In 2006, he entered May 9 hitting .206, then went on to hit .345 the rest of the way and finished at .321.