Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Postgame: Pelfrey takes a step backward

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB Updated: April 10, 2014 - 6:57 PM

    It's getting hard to keep the losing streaks straight. Let's see, it's nine straight losses at Target Field. It's nine straight losses to the A's. It's four straight to the Royals, but seven straight in this ballpark.

    Wow, where did all the optimism go? The Twins came home on Monday relatively certain that this season would be better, that they could be a .500 team on the road and better than that at home. Suddenly, after a sweep at the hands of Oakland, all seems gloomy at Target Field once more. The clubhouse was whisper-quiet after the game.

    By far the biggest setback Thursday, however, was on the mound, where the 2013 Mike Pelfrey, the one who falls behind every hitter and slows the game way down, reappeared. Pelfrey, many observers in Fort Myers asserted, would be a different pitcher this season, that being two years removed from Tommy John surgery would change his approach and his results.

    Maybe it will. Four innings into his start in Cleveland last Friday, I was ready to believe he was a totally different pitcher. But after no-hitting the Indians for five innings, he suddenly fell apart last week. And then Thursday, it was like a time warp -- back to the old habits, and his "this is unacceptable" self-assessment in the clubhouse.

    I keep saying, the fans of this team want to believe things are better, but their pitching is making it awfully hard. We heard all winter about how they had addressed their starting rotation by spending $84 million on Pelfrey, Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco. I expected those guys to make a big splash early, something that would really enliven the atmosphere around this team.

    Maybe they'll be as good as advertised, but that show-us moment has been lost. Two starts apiece for that trio, they own ERAs of 7.84 (Pelfrey), 7.20 (Hughes) and 9.00 (Nolasco). No wonder it's getting so quiet around Target Field.


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