It was a great night Friday for a deep conversation at the Dome. Or to take the kids to get their faces painted. Or to actually listen to the reasons why you should fill out that form and get a free T-shirt.
You didn't have to watch the Twins' 8-5 loss to Washington to figure out how righthander Carlos Silva was doing. All you had to do was hear his pitches being hit to know it wasn't his night.
Silva didn't have his sinker, he wasn't throwing strikes and Washington worked him for seven runs on 10 hits in just three-plus innings. The Twins trailed 8-0 through four innings, a hole that Jason Kubel's three-run homer in the seventh and a couple of runs after that couldn't fill.
"It takes a lot to get back in a ballgame like that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
"It was just not a good start. It starts with your starter."
Silva was honest after the game.
Question: "You had trouble finding your sinker tonight?"
Silva. "Today? I tried to find anything."
He suffered mechanical failures that flattened out his sinker and made it hittable. He tried to adjust but missed the plate. He became predictable and even more hittable.
Former Twin Cristian Guzman, who toured his old clubhouse before the game with a big grin on his face, led his team with four hits, three runs scored and an RBI. He is hitting .339.
"NL fastball teams," Gardenhire said. "We knew that going in that you have to spin the ball and you have to mix it up for these guys, and we weren't able to do that because he didn't have the pitches."
Silva's outing ruined a night the Twins were waiting for.
All-Star catcher Joe Mauer returned to the lineup after missing 29 games because of a strained left quadriceps muscle. He went 1-for-5 but hit four balls hard, including a shot to first that ended the game.
"I hate all those line drives," Gardenhire joked.
The Twins also were back in interleague play, where they were 16-2 last season and 2-1 this year before Friday.
Silva was coming off an excellent outing in Oakland last week in which he held the A's to one run in eight innings. And he entered the game with a 2.53 ERA at home.
All those factors were in the Twins' favor, but Washington wiped it away with a 15-hit attack.
"Whatever I threw they were hitting," Silva said. "Nothing was working."
The Twins did nothing early against Nationals righthander Jason Simontacchi, who pitched a season-high 72/3 innings, six of them shutout ball. Simontacchi, who pitched for Class AAA Edmonton of the Twins' chain in 2001, and Saul Rivera, drafted by the Twins in 1998, got all 27 outs Friday.
Ramon Ortiz kept the Twins in the game with six innings of one-run ball, and Kubel made things interesting with his homer. But Rivera got Mike Redmond to ground out with two on and two out in the eighth and the score 8-4.
At least the Twins can rejoice that Mauer is back.
"It's good to get back out there with the guys," Mauer said. "I pictured the first game back a little different."