DETROIT - The Twins fell 20 games below .500 on Wednesday night, and even though this has been a two-month free fall, their clubhouse remains in disbelief.
"With the talent level we have in here, you feel like it would almost be hard to be 20 under," pitcher Scott Baker said.
The Twins have baseball's ninth-biggest payroll, at $113 million. Nearly half of the Opening Day roster has landed on the disabled list, but that doesn't fully explain the 17-37 record.
One third of the way through the season, the Twins are on pace to finish 51-111.
It's almost unexplainable, much like some of the plays in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Baker (2-4) is a control specialist, but with one out in the third inning, he walked Ramon Santiago and Brennan Boesch, setting the stage for Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer.
That gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead. Two batters later, Andy Dirks hit a high foul ball that was easily playable for catcher Drew Butera, first baseman Justin Morneau or even Baker.
Butera camped under the ball but bailed at the last second, and the ball plopped right onto the grass.
"That's not a weird mistake, that's just a communication thing," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If you were down on the field, you heard the fans scream, 'I got it! I got it!' And it sounded like a player.
"Really, if you ask Justin Morneau, he'll tell you that's his ball. He should have caught it."
Said Butera: "I think I heard someone yell 'Drew!' I thought someone maybe said, 'I got it! I got it!' And in my mind, I just didn't process it fast enough."
Perhaps Baker and Butera wanted to crawl into a hole at that moment, but they kept competing. Baker finished with three scoreless innings, and Butera hit his first home run since Aug. 3, a two-run shot off Tigers starter Rick Porcello (5-3) in the seventh that trimmed Detroit's lead to 4-2.
The Twins loaded the bases later in the seventh before Trevor Plouffe, subbing for the injured Jim Thome, took a called third strike to end the inning.
In the ninth, the Twins had another head-scratcher. With one out and Matt Tolbert on second base, Alexi Casilla tried to bunt with two strikes, and fouled off Jose Valverde's pitch for a strikeout.
"I don't know where that came from," Gardenhire said. "We call that a loose-cannon play."
Said Casilla: "What I thought was, I don't care about the runner on second because for me, that run means nothing. I'm the tying run. We've been losing too much. So darn, [the infielders are] playing back. I took a chance to maybe get on base because I've got [Morneau] behind me."
Valverde intentionally walked Morneau -- putting the potential tying run on base -- but Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the game.
The last time the Twins were 20 games under .500 was in 2000, when they finished the season 69-93.
"At this point, I don't know what else we can do but try to play good baseball," Baker said. "Obviously, it's going to be like climbing Mount Everest to get back where we need to be."