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RandBall: The sting of four-game losing streaks

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • April 10, 2012 - 8:59 AM

 

Surly isn't just a local craft beer that started flowing on Monday at Target Field. It's a way of life for fans these days at the ballpark.

 

The grumbling began almost from the start Monday, in stark contrast to 2011. Last year, people were waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the Twins to snap out of their one-year aberration and get back to the winning trend that had held for most of the previous decade. The Twins were innocent until proven guilty -- and 99 losses became a convincing pile of evidence.

This year, they are being treated as guilty until proven innocent, or at least awful until proven proficient.

Can you blame the fans? No.

This is the worst possible start for the Twins -- yeah, you are welcome for that expert analysis. In a show-me season, they have shown more of the same from 2011 so far. They are the only winless team in the American League. And they have already grabbed one of those terrible things they had so many of last year: a four-game losing streak.

In a 162-game season, losses are going to happen. Mini-slumps of two or three games are inevitable. It's avoiding the true streaks, of four games or more, that can often define relative success. From 2002 through 2010, the Twins had 37 losing streaks of four games or more. That number might sound kind of high, considering they won the division six times in that span, but it's really just an average of four per year. In 2010, it only happened three times. In 2009, it only happened twice. Avoiding those streaks means you might have a stopper in the rotation, a closer you can count on or a guy in the lineup who can carry you. The Twins did not have any of those elements in 2011 -- when they had a whopping 10 losing streaks of at least four games.

Conventional wisdom says the Twins have at least more candidates in a healthier lineup this season to prevent an abundance of these long skids. And there is the hope that a stopper emerges from the rotation. The bullpen? Er, um. But if the lineup falters and hope disappears from the rotation? Well, conventional wisdom was this year couldn't possibly be worse than last year. But you never know. It's only been four games -- a small sample size, but a pretty bad sample.

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