Souhan: Finding reason to cheer will be a challenge

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2012 - 1:04 AM

Outfielder Erik Komatsu, who wasn’t with the Twins when they got no-hit last week by Jered Weaver, ended Weaver’s hitless string against them with this third-inning single Monday.

Photo: Genevieve Ross, Associated Press

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The Twins added to their Glossary of Unfortunate Nicknames on Monday.

That august book already included "Husking" (Butch Huskey running full-speed, face-first into an outfield wall he had forgotten was there) and "Jonesing" (Jacque Jones trying to throw the ball home from the outfield, spiking it at his feet and watching it roll away like a loose cantaloupe).

Monday offered two new entries:

1. The "Standing Komatsu'': Receiving an ovation from people who can't pronounce your name for hitting a single in the third inning that doesn't score a run.

2. The "Parmoff'': When your name is Chris Parmelee, you're playing first base and your pitcher fools you so badly with his pickoff move that you're facing home when the ball whizzes by your head.

Erik Komatsu, the Twins' new outfielder, thwarted history. His single off the Angels' Jered Weaver prevented Weaver from pitching a second consecutive no-hitter against the Twins, and it has been weeks since a pitcher has thrown consecutive no-hitters against the Twins.

For smacking a third-inning single up the middle, Komatsu received a standing ovation. It was like watching a crowd cheer for a valet.

Then, in the top of the ninth, with the Twins within two runs in a game they would lose 8-3, Twins reliever Glen Perkins tried to pick off a runner, and his throw instead almost hit Parmelee in the temple.

What was ugly has turned absurd. The Twins returned to Target Field on Monday after one of the worst road trips in franchise history, and found new ways to petition for entry into the American Association.

To perform as poorly as the Twins have at the plate over the last week, It takes a village.

Before Monday, they had managed 14 hits over their previous five games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that tied the Twins with the 1961 Red Sox and 1993 Reds for the fewest hits for a major league team over a five-game span during baseball's modern era.

A month ago, the Twins' plan was to survive questionable starting pitching by relying on what looked like a deep lineup. Now their batting order looks every bit as pathetic as last year's Fun Bunch Battalion.

With Josh Willingham nursing a skin condition, the bottom five in the lineup on Monday night were Danny Valencia, Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe, Komatsu and Jamey Carroll.

They had produced two home runs.

The young players who were supposed to deepen the lineup and provide promise for the franchise are failing.

Valencia has regressed to the point where he might lose playing time to utility infielder Carroll, who was bumped from the starting shortstop job by the newly arrived Brian Dozier. The Twins would probably be happy to trade Valencia, but other teams employ scouts.

Parmelee performed well for the Twins last September, which rivals spring training as a backdrop for statistical mirages. Plouffe has yet to prove he belongs in the big leagues at any position. Komatsu is a waiver-wire acquisition.

The Twins bench Monday consisted of Drew Butera, who was bumped from the squad in spring training because he can't hit; Alexi Casilla, a slap hitter; and Willingham, who went 1-for-18 on the road trip.

It is indicative of the Twins' struggles that so much has been made of Dozier's arrival.

He is promising, but he is not Bryce Harper. As a hitter, he might not even be Brian Harper.

Monday night, Parmelee looked the wrong way, Komatsu dropped a fly ball after a long run, and Plouffe froze off second base on a line drive, before getting doubled off. "That's a cardinal sin," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Tonight it was a Twins sin."

The Twins not only need Dozier to excel, they need about another dozen players to emerge from their farm system the next two or three years, and right now there are no impact players at Class AAA pushing for promotion.

Komatsu saved Major League Baseball some trouble with that single. Had Weaver no-hit the Twins again, Bud Selig might have felt compelled to pin an asterisk to the achievement. These Twins are just that bad.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. •

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