Souhan: Flirtation with competitiveness was but a dream

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2013 - 11:23 PM
hide

The Twins' Clete Thomas reacted after being called out on strikes in the eighth inning against the Yankees at Target Field on Thursday in a 9-5 defeat.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Last Sunday, the Twins were tied 7-7 with the Royals in the top of the eighth inning on a beautiful afternoon, creating one of the most optimistic moments of the past three seasons.

Win that game, and the Twins would have taken a series from the Royals and moved into third place in the American League Central, within five games of the division lead. Kyle Gibson had made his major league debut the day before, winning easily, and the worst Yankees team since the early ’90s was about to get swept in Baltimore before flying to Minnesota for a four-game series.

They lost 9-8. Five days later, the Twins fled the country much like Edward Snowden, in a desperate search of elusive asylum.

In five days at Target Field, the Twins were exposed as a team with no strengths and no hope of remaining competitive this season. At the beginning of those five days, they could have claimed their bullpen, or general good health, or the arrival of Gibson as positives. By Thursday, their bullpen had been twisted into origami; their best slugger, Josh Willingham, had undergone knee surgery, and Gibson had gotten smacked around by a Yankees lineup missing Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira.

By the time Oswaldo Arcia grounded out to end a 9-5 beating on Thursday afternoon, the Twins had destroyed their chances of feigning competitiveness this season, while reaffirming their aversion to the Yankees’ logo.

Worse, they reached the low point of a third consecutive unsightly season after calling up the only player at Class AAA capable of altering the perception or direction of their franchise. Gibson was supposed to be their last talisman capable of warding off a summer of meaningless baseball, but he started the game throwing pitches right down the middle. The result was a maddeningly routine loss in front of one of the quietest sellout crowds in Twins history.

“A disappointing homestand, after a good start to it with the Royals,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Losing that last day to the Royals and then letting [the Yankees] come in here and take it to us …

“We didn’t do much right.”

Their proximity to the top of the division on Sunday afternoon should be far more shocking than their collapse. The Twins rank last in the majors in starting pitching ERA and next-to-last in the American League in team ERA. They rank 10th in the American League in runs scored and next-to-last in home runs.

While they rank fifth in the league in fielding percentage, they lack range and have made far too many mental mistakes in the field.

The rotation is a mess. The bullpen has become one. The lineup lacks power and speed. They have zero players producing a career year. The 2013 Twins are a team without strengths.

“It’s tough,” catcher Joe Mauer said. “We knew [with] New York coming in it was going to be a tough series. We battled, but to lose four in a row at home is definitely a hard pill to swallow.”

The kids — Aaron Hicks, Brian Dozier, Chris Parmelee, Vance Worley, Pedro Florimon — have not performed like big-leaguers. Justin Morneau, despite two home runs Thursday and 50 RBI this season, has not recaptured the dominance of his prime. Veteran pitcher Mike Pelfrey returns from the disabled list with a 6.11 ERA.

Even the Twins who are performing at an All-Star level, Mauer and closer Glen Perkins, require help to be effective. Perkins needs a lead to earn a save; Mauer needs the hitters behind him to take advantage of his on-base percentage.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins honored the pending retirement of legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera by giving him a rocking chair made of broken bats, calling it the “Chair of Broken Dreams.”

The Twins offered to ship it to Rivera. He liked the chair so much he insisted on bringing it with him on the Yankees charter, the latest example of the Twins’ ability to make the Yankees comfortable.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Top 8th123456789RHE
Minnesota00000300 351
Baltimore0000003  351
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
HR: MIN- None BAL- N.Hundley (4)

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 6 Bottom 6th Inning
Miami 5
Philadelphia 5 Top 8th Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 2 Top 8th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Minnesota 3 Top 8th Inning
Baltimore 3
Pittsburgh 3 Top 5th Inning
St. Louis 2
Milwaukee 0 Top 5th Inning
Chicago Cubs 3
Detroit - D. Price 3:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Seattle - C. Young 3:05 PM
Oakland - J. Hammel
San Francisco 2 Suspended
Colorado 2
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
San Diego - T. Ross
San Francisco - T. Hudson 4:40 PM
Colorado - F. Morales
Washington - G. Gonzalez 7:10 PM
Los Angeles - R. Hernandez
Texas - C. Lewis 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
Utah State 7 FINAL
Tennessee 38
SMU 0 FINAL
(10) Baylor 45
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 30 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Toronto 12 10:34
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 3:30 PM
Calgary
Indiana 3:00 PM
Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close