Twins starter Kyle Gibson pitched six scoreless innings Wednesday night at Target Field. It did him no good. The Twins couldn’t produce a clutch hit in the first three innings against journeyman Joe Saunders, and couldn’t produce a whimper against Shawn Tolleson, Neal Cotts, Jason Frasor and Joakim Soria after that.
Jared Burton gave up a run in the seventh, to the surprise of no one in the announced crowd of 26,472, and the Rangers eased to a 1-0 victory.
The Twins are now 24-26 after 50 games, meaning they are more bad than good.
How would you grade this outfit by position after 50 games? Scratch that. I don’t really care. This is how I rate them:
CATCHER — Kurt Suzuki, backed up by Josmil Pinto. Suzuki is heading back to his normal range as a hitter, but the veteran was a terrific signing to fill the gap when Joe Mauer was moved to first base. Suzuki complained to Ron Gardenhire early this season … when the manager didn’t have him in the lineup for a day game after a night game. Pinto is subpar as a catcher, but he can hit. Grade: B.
FIRST BASE — Brian Dozier led off Wednesday’s game with a double. Mauer was next and hit a bouncer to second, allowing Dozier to get to third with one out. There were hand slaps in the dugout and Mauer was lauded for a “productive out.’’ OK, but as Earl Weaver used to say, “What’s wrong with a double?’’
Later Mauer struck out in the seventh vs. lefty Cotts with a runner on third and two outs. There were loud boos. Whether he’s the highest-paid Twins player of all-time or was a guy making a few million, Mauer is having a wretched season. Grade: D.
SECOND BASE — Dozier has been outstanding in the field. He has 11 home runs. More than that, he gives you sense that he expects something good to happen when he’s at the plate. Grade: B.
SHORTSTOP — Eduardo Escobar was given the job after the Twins spent a month watching Pedro Florimon flail away. Escobar has been serviceable in the field and, so far, a doubles-hitting machine at the plate. Danny Santana could play here, if necessary, and I’m a fan. Grade: C.
THIRD BASE — Fielding is never going to be an asset with Trevor Plouffe, although he’s been moderately improved this season. His average is going down, but his RBI total of 30 is solid. Grade: C.
LEFT FIELD — Jason Kubel has made 33 starts in left. Josh Willingham has returned from a wrist injury for this Texas series. Kubel has hit the skids. Willingham has played little and has done nothing. Grade: D.
CENTER FIELD — Aaron Hicks missed Wednesday’s game because of a sore back. He can play out there but was so overmatched at the plate he gave up switch-hitting. This is going to be a desperate situation all season. Grade: F.
RIGHT FIELD — This will be Oswaldo Arcia’s spot, if he doesn’t encounter maladies that keep him from the lineup. He’s going to be a hitter, but for now … Grade: C.
DESIGNATED HITTER — Pinto is the best option here, but Gardenhire has that two-catcher paranoia. Kubel will be seen here more than Pinto, so … Grade: D.
STARTING PITCHERS — Phil Hughes (A) had a so-so start, then made a quick turnaround. Sam Deduno (C+) has been OK, and he takes the short straw in working with the less-than-smooth Pinto. Gibson (C+) is in his first full season in the big leagues and he’s going to be OK. Ricky Nolasco (D) has offered the lethal mix of throwing a few meatballs per game and not being able to put away hitters. Kevin Correia (F) has been bad in 10 starts; Mike Pelfrey (F), now in Rochester on rehab.
BULLPEN — Glen Perkins (B+) is 14 of 16 in saves, with 31 strikeouts in 23⅓ innings. Brian Duensing (B) and Casey Fien (B) supply confidence as a left-right combination in front of Perkins.
The rest of the bullpen offers less reliability: Caleb Thielbar (C+), Anthony Swarzak (C-), Jared Burton (D) and Matt Guerrier (incomplete).
That’s my 50-game report. If you disagree with this grading, I don’t care.