The Twins looked lethargic early and overmatched late. And a lot of the stuff in between was pretty ugly, too.
They bungled their way to a 7-2 loss to the Royals on Thursday, the victory completing Kansas City’s first sweep here since Aug. 4-6, 1998. On top of the latest meager offensive outing was defense so substandard it had manager Ron Gardenhire hinting at a vigorous early workout Friday.
“Our fans don’t deserve to watch that crap,’’ Gardenhire said flatly.
As players retreated to a silent clubhouse following the game, the front office rushed to the transaction wire.
Lefthander Scott Diamond, long believed to be on the hot seat, was sent off to Class AAA Rochester after giving up six earned runs over five innings Thursday. But he won’t be lonely on the flight out. Rookie Aaron Hicks, a splendid defensive outfielder with a .192 batting average, was also sent down with orders to improve his at-bats.
Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was called up from Rochester to replace Hicks. The Twins have put off announcing who the other callup will be, but lefthander Andrew Albers, 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA for the Red Wings, figures to get the nod.
Diamond (5-10) had 14 of the 27 batters he faced reach base and he couldn’t make a pitch to get out of trouble. Kansas City scored two in the second inning then added at least one run in each of the next four innings to ease away.
The Twins thought Diamond was about to turn a corner after holding Seattle to one run over 6⅔ innings in his previous outing. Over his past 15 starts, Diamond was 2-8 with a 6.46 ERA and needed to take a step back.
“Adjustments need to be made,” said Diamond, who was 12-9 last year. “Especially on my half, I have to do a lot better. I think in the long run, this will pay off.”
Hicks was 0-for-4 with two more strikeouts. He raised his average to .205 on July 8 while playing great defense. But he’s batting .152 over the past 19 games with only four walks and 19 strikeouts. The Twins worried about regression.
“This game is just a business,” Hicks said. “You have to be able to produce and produce on a daily basis. The past couple weeks, I haven’t been producing that well. These kinds of things happen to a lot of guys. The most important [thing] is to bounce back.”
Arcia is batting .375 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 13 games since being demoted. His bat will enter a lineup that was 5-for-28 with runners in scoring position during the three-game Royals series.
The Twins need to address many issues after a poor series against Kansas City — such as their normally strong defense. Trevor Plouffe was late reacting to a ground ball in the second and committed an error later in the inning. Chris Herrmann missed cutoff men and misplayed Alex Gordon’s fly ball off the wall in the third that bounced by him. Brian Dozier added to the problem but not running out to back up Herrmann, allowing Gordon to leg out a triple.
“It did not look like the boys were ready,” Gardenhire said.
Then Dozier and shortstop Doug Bernier were caught napping as Eric Hosmer pulled off a delayed steal in the sixth inning, always embarrassing to the opponent.
“That’s just not the way you play,” Gardenhire said. “We had a meeting and told them that wasn’t acceptable and that is on me. My job is to get them ready to play. I can’t accept that as a manager.”