Twins' one-man show goes nowhere

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2011 - 7:06 AM

Wednesday's loss by baseball's worst team was the most recent example of a wasted effort by the Twins' lone hot hitter, Jason Kubel.

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Jason Kubel has been one of the American League's best hitters for nearly six weeks, but he plays for the worst team in the majors, so most of that production has gone to waste.

Wednesday's 9-7 loss to Detroit was just another example for the Twins.

Kubel's five plate appearances were almost perfect. He drew two walks. He lined out to the warning track. He laced a two-out RBI single. He hit the team's first three-run homer of the season -- a lead-changing, 460-foot blast into the second deck in right-center field.

A sellout crowd at Target Field demanded a curtain call after that one, in the seventh inning.

But after blowing another late lead, the Twins fell to a major league-worst 12-23. How has that happened?

"It's not just the young guys, it's the veteran guys, it's everybody," right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "It's not just the hitters, it's all facets of the game, with the exception of our DH, Jason Kubel."

Kubel is batting .355 with four home runs and 20 RBI.

His on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) is .946. Among Twins hitters with at least 20 plate appearances, the next highest OPS belongs to Denard Span, at .710.

"Things can get better," Kubel said. "We've done it before, and I'm just hoping we can do it again."

To get better, the Twins need to stop wasting opportunities, especially until they get closer to full strength.

After Kubel's homer put the Twins ahead 6-5, they twice failed to score a runner from third base with less than two outs. The Twins scored in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Cuddyer's one-out strikeout spoiled a chance to add more in the seventh, and Span's one-out strikeout spoiled a chance to add more in the eighth.

The pitchers had issues, too. Scott Baker and four relievers combined for eight walks, giving the Tigers 17 free passes in their two-game sweep.

Jose Mijares issued a one-out walk in the eighth inning before Matt Capps served up a two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta. After the Twins tied it again in the bottom of the inning -- on Ben Revere's helicopter collision with Detroit catcher Alex Avila -- the Tigers scored two more runs off Capps in the ninth.

The Twins, who ended a six-game losing skid last week, have now lost five in a row again.

"It's not just an urgency to win," Cuddyer said. "We've gotta play better before we can worry about winning. And that's all of us, myself included. When I get guys in scoring position, I've gotta drive them in."

Cuddyer was batting .103 (3-for-29) with runners in scoring position before he drilled an RBI double in the second inning. This came after a leadoff double by Morneau and a shallow flyout to center field by Danny Valencia.

That at-bat by Valencia was among the myriad things eating at manager Ron Gardenhire.

"Man on second, doesn't get him over, flips a weak fly ball," Gardenhire said. "That's not good enough. That's not how we play. And [he's like], 'I'm trying.'

"OK, you are trying. Get it done. That's how we have to do it. Get it done because I'm tired of 'trying.'"

Gardenhire said he would have preferred a ground ball to the right side of the infield. It's the little things the manager wants. He's not asking everyone to be Kubel.

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

  • DETROIT 9, TWINS 7 Up next: Three-game series vs. Toronto, beginning Friday • Target Field • TV: FSN (1500ESPN)

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