It's August, and the Twins are about to start paying for the rainouts they had in April. They are seven games into a stretch of 27 games in 27 days.
They were anxious about their relief pitching holding up already, and things are just getting worse.
"We just tried to get through as best we could without killing our bullpen tonight," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Too many starts going 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 innings, rather than getting into the second half of games. Our bullpen's getting killed out there."
Monday's 13-0 loss to the Royals was the fifth start since this stretch started seven games ago that the Twins' starter has failed to pitch into the sixth inning, and no one has reached the seventh since Sam Deduno on July 27. It's putting a lot of stress on the bullpen -- and now they have a rookie making his debut on Tuesday.
Oh, what Gardenhire wouldn't give for a complete-game shutout like Jeremy Guthrie delivered for the Royals on Monday.
-- Speaking of Albers, he watched Monday's game intently, and watched the clock, too, as it counted down less than 24 hours until his major-league debut.
"I'll be getting a good look at [the Royals], seeing if I can pick up anything," the 27-year-old lefthander said before the game. "I've got to come up with a plan for tomorrow, so I'll be looking for things I can use to my advantage."
He probably didn't learn too much from Kevin Correia's start, partly because it lasted only two innings, and partly because Correia is righthanded. But "even so, you can see how aggressive they are at the plate. Who swings early, who changes their swing path for different pitches," Albers said. "Really, I'm looking for anything that might help."
Albers spent much of Monday trying to help his friends and family reach Kansas City, with some flight issues making things difficult. He's a native of Saskatchewan, and said he expected about 10 people in the stands for his debut.
-- Not that it mattered much against Guthrie, who only once faced five batters in an inning, but the Twins sabotaged themselves with some bad baserunning, too.
In the fourth inning, Ryan Doumit led off with a double, only the second -- and final -- Twin to reach second base. But with one out, he broke for third when Trevor Plouffe slapped a routine grounder to shortstop, and Alcides Escobar made an easy flip to throw him out at third.
Then, before another pitch was thrown, Plouffe was picked off first base, compounding the mistake.
-- Plouffe made the night's defensive highlight, running almost full speed into camera well, then falling headfirst, to catch Alex Gordon's popup to end the fourth inning. He stayed in the game and said he was OK after the game, and didn't think he would have too bad a bruise.