There was plenty of fan displeasure at Target Field on Tuesday night, with most of it aimed at Twins hitters in the early innings, as their struggles with runners in scoring position continued.
The Twins are batting .158 in those situations over the past six games, including 1-for-10 Tuesday, so it was easy to understand everyone's frustration.
But here's the thing: That number figures to correct itself over time. The far greater concern is pitching, and that issue probably won't go away any time soon.
The Twins combined all their early season shortcomings into one game, as the Red Sox pounded pitchers Nick Blackburn and Matt Maloney for eight hits apiece, rolling to an 11-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 33,651.
"We had a pretty good feeling after [Monday's 6-5 loss]," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We lost the ballgame, but there were a lot of good things that happened, and tonight was just junk."
Blackburn lasted three innings in his first appearance since April 14, when he left his start against Texas in the sixth inning because of right shoulder stiffness. Five of Boston's first six batters got hits during a three-run top of the first inning, and David Ortiz made it 5-1 in the third with a two-run homer that approached the Twins clock tower in right field.
Blackburn didn't blame his performance on the 10-day layoff.
"My arm felt great," he said. "I was falling behind hitters and wasn't making pitches when I needed to."
That's been a recurring theme. Twins starters have combined to go 2-10 with a major league-worst 6.73 ERA through 18 games. The ripple effects are being felt in the bullpen, which has thrown 60 innings already this year, or 3 1/3 innings per game.
"That's not going to cut it," Gardenhire said. "Our starters have to do a better job of getting deeper into the games, and we've got to get the ball out of those bullpen guys' hands or they're all not going to make it through this year."
With Scott Baker out because of a season-ending elbow injury, and Francisco Liriano in a major funk, this team is reeling, with little from which to choose at Class AAA Rochester aside from lefthander Scott Diamond, who is 4-0 with a 1.07 ERA. But Diamond went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA in seven starts for the Twins last year, so it's tough to view him as a potential savior.
"We have to get [the starters] straightened out," Gardenhire said. "We can't go out and buy people. We've got to make this work. You understand? I can't rub a bottle to make somebody pop out. I have a lot of confidence in these guys, but they have to get it done in the field. It doesn't matter what I say in here. They have to go out between the lines and get it done."
The offense needs improvement, too. The Twins had Josh Beckett on the ropes in the first inning. Justin Morneau drew a 10-pitch walk -- the third consecutive walk that inning -- to force home a run, but Beckett fanned Ryan Doumit on three pitches and kept the damage to one run.
The Twins came up empty in the third inning after putting runners at second and third with one out.
"It's kind of funny to say, but I think we're a lot better team than we've shown," Morneau said. "With the exception of tonight and maybe one or two other games, we've been in every game. We've shown some character and shown that we can play with these teams. We just haven't been able to take that final step of finishing them off."