Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

How long will the beatings continue?

Posted by: Howard Sinker Updated: April 10, 2014 - 7:36 PM

The optimism of a few days ago, sparked partly by the 3-3 road trip in the first week of the season and partly for no better reason that the Home Opener can bring on that kind of behavior, was replaced with the thump-thump-thump of the low-profile but high-achieving Oakland Athletics sweeping the Twins. One of the games was close, but even in that one the Twins were behind 4-0 before they got a chance to hit.

Mike Pelfrey -- whose name was misspelled "Pelfry" on the scoreboard during pregame introductions -- didn't bother in his second start with a few good innings before falling apart. On offense, the Twins called it a day remarkably quickly. Three of the first seven batters got hits; none of the next 25 did. The Athletics were dominant again, and the score would have been even more lopsided save for a baserunning flub by Nick Punto (Imagine that!) while they were expanding their lead in the sixth.

All of this was played out in front of the smallest crowd ever to show up at Target Field. It was announced at 20,650 and the out-migration started early. A Timberwolves assistant coach sitting a couple of trows in front of us left his seat in the fourth inning and never reappeared. Our seats, behind home plate and nine rows up, were grabbed off the Internet for $13 each, all fees included.

Oakland is a team of a few excellent positions players, a bunch of good pitchers and a batch of interchangeable parts. Sam Fuld, an undistinguished outfielder, hit the seventh home run of his seven-year career off Big Pelf. Punto, on his fourth team in four years since leaving the Twins, had reached base four times in 14 times up this season before reaching three times out of four on Thursday. Oakland put 18 runners on base, which meant they pretty much couldn't help but score six runs.

On the Twins side, some things evened out and some didn't. Chris Colabello ended the series with the same 11 RBI that he started with after going hitless in 13 at-bats. Twins starting pitchers have a combined 6.89 ERA through the first nine games. Take away Kyle Gibson's start (1 earned run but only 5 innings) and the other four have a combined 7.50. Darin Mastroianni was called up (finally) after the Willingham, Arcia and Bartlett injuries from that road trip and pretty much by default was placed in the leadoff spot. Joe Mauer is still on pace to drive in zero runs.

We are nine games into the season and the Twins have played only one -- Gibson's victory at Cleveland last weekend -- in which the team can take any sort of pride. The other two victories were outlasting jobs that looked more like a night in New Britain than a day in the big leagues.

The best rationale for saying that things will get better is that they can't really get much worse.

Already, the chatter among those who chatter with me is whether the 2014 Twins will finish with a worse record than the teams of the last three years. Does 3-and-6 through nine games become 54-and-108 through 162? Basically, a team that pretty much failed at improving itself in the winter has played failing-grade baseball through the first 10 or so days of the season. And if things remain the same -- on the field and off -- how can a reasonable person expect the Twins to have better success at attracting the needed talent for '15 and beyond?

Someone e-mailed me after the game, a person whose name you might know if you follow business and education issues: "Wow, a disaster is unfolding before our eyes."

There's a verse in the New Testament that describes the Twins right now. It's about reaping what you sow. Galatians 6:7. You can look it up.

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Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

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Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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