Some readers thought I was too negative with Saturday night’s game story, and that’s fine. It’s early. I get it. But any team that starts 0-3 against the Orioles is going to hear a few doomsday scenarios, especially one coming off a 63-99 season.
Let’s see, something positive ... well ... at least the revamped bullpen hasn’t blown a lead! OK, you know I’m being sarcastic now because the Twins haven’t had a lead to blow.
But since we’re on the topic, it wasn’t a great weekend for bullpen newcomers Jared Burton and Matt Maloney, either. Burton entered with the Twins trailing 6-0 in the seventh inning Saturday and gave up home runs to Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters.
“I don’t want to get too deep into it,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Let’s just call it pitch selection. It’s not what this notebook [with the Orioles scouting report] says you should do. Two guys that just kill change-ups, and [Burton] threw them two change-ups. You go figure that one out. It’s definitive in our meetings and everything, 'Just don’t throw those pitches,' and we threw two of them, and they both ended up in the same spot, right in the third or fourth row, whatever it was.”
Gardenhire agreed that catcher Joe Mauer shares some responsibility for calling those pitches, but added that Mauer wasn’t calling for change-ups down the middle.
Either way, it was a rough Twins debut for Burton, who entered the season as the team’s top righthanded setup man. Then there’s Maloney, a lefthander who posted a 1.17 ERA in 15 1/3 innings this spring. He entered Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with the Twins trailing 1-0. After hitting Nick Johnson with a pitch to put runners at first and second, Maloney let the Orioles pull off a double steal. Wilson Betemit followed with a two-run double.
“He got some pitches up,” Gardenhire said. “The disappointing part is [the double steal]. He picked his leg up. We’re all yelling from the dugout, ‘You’ve got to hold the runner and use your slide step.' And he went 1.8 [seconds] to home, and they stole second and third. Those are the situations that you can’t let overcome you out there. You’ve still got to pay attention to the game.”
These aren't major issues yet. Burton and Maloney both had very good springs, so they’ll be back out there in big spots. That is, assuming the Twins ever grab a lead.