Patrick Reusse: Twins will hit, but will it be this season?

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2011 - 12:54 AM

The Twins were fortunate to split with Oakland in their first two home games, considering their feeble efforts at the plate.


Justin Morneau is among the many Twins who are scuffling at the plate in the first 10 days of the season.

Photo: Levison, Marlin, Star Tribune

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The Twins have been back in Target Field for two games and we keep looking to see if Jacques Lemaire is in the dugout. This is the first baseball team to use the neutral zone trap -- keeping things all tangled up somewhere around second base.

If this continues any longer, Minnesotans are going to have to consider paying more attention to the Swarm. Or the Lynx.

Yeah, that's it ... the Lynx. Maya Moore. When do the Lynx start?

We could even mention the Valkyrie, the fanciest name ever for a group of athletes who play in their underwear, but somebody told me our proud new franchise in the Lingerie Football League has a total of two home games.

It was almost an embarrassment to watch the Twins sneak off the field with a 2-1 victory over Oakland in the home opener Friday. The sorry hacks the Twins had against A's starter Brett Anderson created enough firewood to heat a deer camp in Hackensack for a week.

Somehow, the Twins snaked in a few singles in the eighth, scored twice and then walked off the field as if they had pulled off a dramatic comeback, rather than a crime against baseball justice.

The most popular phrase in the Twins clubhouse has been, "This team is going to hit, we know that," and then these bold bashers went out on Saturday and swung their plywood weapons in even more pathetic fashion against starter Gio Gonzalez and ex-Twins Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes.

The Twins hitters largely shook off spring training and at-bats in exhibitions as if they were meaningless. They sneaked to a back field to play in a morning "B" game or stayed behind to play in minor league games.

Who cared? This team was going to hit, we knew that.

It's not too early to respond to that with, "OK, any day now," not when Trevor Plouffe has three homers in three games at Rochester, and the big-league Twins -- the squad he couldn't make -- has two homers in eight games.

The final was 1-0 for the A's. This was the second 1-0 loss for the Twins at Target Field. The other came last May 25, when Derek Jeter hit a home run to give the Yankees the victory.

By coincidence, it was another shortstop that produced the lone run on Saturday. That would be Alexi Casilla, who happened to be playing for the losing team.

We were told a couple of things when Casilla was handed this position early in spring training: One, he would be the No. 9 hitter and, with this potent lineup, it didn't matter if he hit; and two, he would play shortstop and Tsuyoshi Nishioka second base, because of the impressive strength of Casilla's arm.

The game was scoreless in the sixth with two outs and Kurt Suzuki on second for the A's. Twins starter Nick Blackburn did what he does at his best, get a ground ball, and Casilla fielded it routinely playing deep at short.

He took a hop and prepared to show off that arm, retire Mark Ellis at first, and get Blackburn back in the dugout on this cool night. Except, Casilla threw a sinker and Justin Morneau couldn't handle the short hop.

"Scoop it, Morneau," someone shouted from the second deck, and an even better suggestion would've been, "Get it there, Casilla."

Casilla has kept the other part of the bargain: not hitting. He had an infield single Saturday that upped his average to .188 -- a mere 15 points below the current norm for the Twins.

He also was in on the most nauseating episode seen from this sick attack. It came in the fifth, after singles by Danny Valencia and Luke Hughes put runners on first and third.

Casilla skidded a grounder to the mound and was thrown out at first. Second and third, one out. Denard Span popped to short. This was a surprise, what with Span being the team leader in RBI (OK, it's four, but he's the leader).

And Joe Mauer followed with a bouncer to second. That wasn't a surprise, since he had done it seven times previously this season in 25 at-bats.

"We aren't swinging the bats as well as we're capable of," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Actually, skipper, your alleged maulers aren't swinging the bats as well as the 2010 Seattle Mariners were capable of.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN.

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