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.
Going into Tuesday's game, you could build a fantasy case for the Twins sneaking back into the AL Central race because of their current run of games against division rivals and the Milwaukee Brewers, who are tied for last place in their weak National League division.
After all, starting the Cleveland series, the Twins were a mere series sweep away from being a .333 baseball team!
Alas, that distinction will have to wait. After the Twins rallied and Matt Capps couldn't keep the game tied in the ninth, the Twins dropped to 10-25, a .286 winning percentage that will yield 116 losses if it continues.
Put it this way: The Twins have to win at almost a 45 percent rate for the rest of the season to avoid losing 100 games.
But no worries. I had the gigantic yam at Target Field last night, and it was darn good.
At this point, I would bet on the Twins losing closer to 116 games than 100. It's the pitching.
Let's strip away all of the other variables for a minute and consider this: When the Twins have won or contended for division titles in the post-Santana era, it was without the benefit of a true No. 1 pitcher. There would be howls to pick one up, but it never happened.
Still, the Twins had a rotation of No. 2 and No. 3-type starters that could be competitive with most other teams on a daily basis -- in other words, competitive enough to get to the postseason.
This season, the Twins have a rotation of fifth starters, at best. Carl Pavano has a 5-plus ERA, Jason Marquis a 6-plus and Nick Blackburn a 7-plus. The exiled Francisco Liriano is at 8-plus after his two shutout innings of relief. (Don't get too excited if you missed it, he walked the bases loaded in his second inning.) Combine that with underperformance elsewhere and it's hard to make a compelling argument for much improvement in 2012.
Yes, it's been fun to watch Scott Diamond, but let's give that another month before we start calling him Cliff Lee II.
And if the most consistent pitchers turns out to be Rochester call-ups Diamond and P.J. Walters, while the staff veterans don't improve, then it's time to ask how much of the blame lies where. There's only so much you can pin on Bill Smith, right?
Day baseball today. The yam stand is behind Section 102. Try one.
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