Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Derek Lowe, relying almost solely on sinkers down and away, shut out the Twins on Tuesday afternoon.
The Twins' approach was horrible. They were way too willing to give in to Lowe and hit the pitch he wanted them to hit, and in the way he wanted them to hit it.
But the bigger problem occured during the other half-innings, when Jason Marquis continued to look like anything other than a big-league pitcher. His ERA is now 6.68 and the way he's built it - with long pauses between pitches and terrible body language - has been alarming.
I'll have a list of suggestions for the Twins in the Wednesday paper. For now, a few facts and notes:
-Lowe hadn't pitched a complete game since 2008.
-Lowe became the first pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout and not strike out a batter since Scott Erickson did it for the Orioles in 2002.
-The Twins went 3-6 on the homestand and will play their next eight on the road.
-The Twins have been shut out four times this season.
-As a professional baseball player, Brian Dozier, who went 3-for-4 on Tuesday as he turned 25, is 9-for-13 on his birthdays.
-Anthony Swarzak has a 2.63 ERA as a reliever this season, with opponents hitting .167 off of him.
This is way too simplistic, but I still like it: Francisco Liriano should be asked to pitch one inning and only one inning for the rest of his career.
Look what happened on Monday. He was dominant for an inning, sat around thinking, and came out and walked three batters in his second inning. Remove all thought and excuses from his outings. Tell him to pitch one inning and that you expect him back in the dugout within five minutes. He looked great in that first inning on Monday, when all he was doing was thinking about the batter at hand.
I'll be on 1500espn at 6:40 tonight with Tom Pelissero, and all week at 2:05 in the afternoon with Reusse and Mackey. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
During a day of many positives, Trevor Plouffe butchered another grounder at third base on Sunday.
Brian Dozier (the subject of my Monday column) played extremely well at shortstop and seems to have locked up the starting job for the next six years, but what if the Twins can't stand to watch Plouffe, who has already failed as a shortstop, kick the ball at third base?
There's an intriguing possibility being discussed by Twins' officials. Pedro Florimon is playing well at Triple-A Rochester. He's considered an even better fielder than Dozier, but not as accomplished a hitter. If Plouffe doesn't improve at third, the Twins could improve call up Florimon to play short and move Dozier to third.
I'm not saying that's going to happen, but it's an intriguing possibility. An infield of Joe Mauer, Jamey Carroll, Florimon and Dozier would be outstanding defensively, and Alexi Casilla could back up each position, with Plouffe, if he remains in the big leagues, playing the role of a super-utility player.
Dozier has been impressive. The Twins' staff raves about his intelligence and willingness to prepare himself, and he takes good at-bats.
I'll have more on Dozier in my column.
One strange thing about this team is that the Twins are 10-24, and yet they've had a lot of things go right.
The bullpen has generally performed well. Opponents were 0-for-34 against Jared Burton before Sunday. Glen Perkins was throwing 96 miles per hour on Sunday. Matt Capps is 7-for-7 in save opportunities. Jeff Gray has performed well, as has Brian Duensing.
Mauer has been durable, and he took good at-bats on Sunday. Josh Willingham has been the Twins' best hitter, Ryan Doumit is the versatile player the Twins thought he would be, Carroll has buttoned up the middle infield, and Dozier has been excellent since his callup.
The Twins have the worst record in baseball. Imagine where they'd be if all those things hadn't gone well.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 Monday with Reusse and Mackey. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Here's what went wrong during the Twins' 6-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday night:
-The Twins fell to 8-23, worst record in the bigs by 2 1/2 games.
-Starter Jason Marquis threw 39 balls in 87 pitches and lasted just four innings. He was brought to Minnesota to throw strikes and eat innings and did neither.
-Trevor Plouffe, in the first game of a tryout at third base that could determine the course of his career, ran into a tag play at second base and failed to call for a popup that he should have caught, a popup that fell between him and Marquis.
-Centerfielder Denard Span forgot how many outs there were.
-Erik Komatsu failed to pick up the third-base coach and, with the ball in rightfield, stopped at second before getting thrown out at third.
-Alexi Casilla got a forceout at second base and forgot to look home to prevent a runner from scoring.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he saw things that you don't see ``in high school ball.''
This was disgusting. This is a flat, unintelligent team filled with guys who shouldn't be in the big-leagues.
Plouffe is not a winning big-league player. Casilla is not an everyday big-league player. The starting rotation is awful, and the best competitor among them, Carl Pavano, hasn't cracked 90 mph this season, indicating he's probably pitching with an injury or in pain.
The bullpen has actually been pretty good. Brian Dozier looks like a player. Josh Willingham has produced. Joe Mauer has stayed healthy.
Other than that, this season has been a washout.
To think the Twins played this poorly the day two key players were demoted - Francisco Liriano to the bullpen and Danny Valencia to AAA.
It may be time to trade Denard Span. The Nationals are still interested and have a surplus of pitching. Make the deal.
And if the Nationals want Plouffe or Casilla or a part-time outfielder, so much the better.
-I'm hearing the Twins like Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton in the June draft. While the Twins are desperate for pitching, Buxton projects to be a big-league star.
-Wrote about the Vikings' stadium for the Friday paper. My take: Minnesota will have an amazing array of sports venues once ZygiDome gets built.
-Joe Mauer is hitting .270 with one homer. Being healthy doesn't help a whole lot if he can't swing the bat with authority.
-Bring up Ben Revere. If you can write a lineup with Komatsu and Darin Mastroianni, you can find enough playing time for Revere.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 tomorrow for my daily update with Reusse and Mackey. Tom Pelissero will run the Gardenhire Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon on Sunday.
-If the Twins keep looking for competent outfielders, they could give Matt Carson a look. He's a veteran minor-leaguer who's hitting .295 for Rochester.
-Thank you, Tiger Woods, for making me feel better about my golf swing.
-I really wish the Twins had been lucky enough to land Bryce Harper. This team needs someone who competes like that.
-The Timberwolves, when semi-healthy, were so much more entertaining than most of the teams in the NBA playoffs.
-Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Brian Dozier got his first big-league hit, and received congratulations from Albert Pujols. So, the Twins have that going for them.
Otherwise, it was another brutal night at the ballpark. Francisco Liriano fell to 0-5. The Twins lost for the 12th time in 14 games and fell to 1-8 in their last nine games at Target Field.
Chris Parmalee got fooled by a Glen Perkins' pickoff and was looking home when the ball flew by him. Trevor Plouffe got doubled off second on a line drive. Erik Komatsu, who had his first multi-hit game as a big-leaguer, also dropped a long flyball to left.
Remember the good old days, when Twins fans worried about beating the Yankees in the playoffs and Joe Mauer staying healthy? Neither rank among the team's top 20 concerns right now.
In fact, the Twins are 2-2 in Yankee Stadium this season and 5-16 everywhere else.
As I write about in my column for Tuesday's paper, the Twins' biggest concern is pitching; their current concern is hitting; and their biggest problem moving forward is a lack of good, young players.
Plouffe and Valencia don't look like winning big-leaguers. Parmalee still has much to prove. Dozier is promising but is not the kind of player who's going to lead a franchise from the wilderness. He's going to need a lot of help, and I don't know where the Twins are going to find it.
Go Lynx. Go Swarm.
The Twins' hitters were just as bad as you thought they were on their just-concluded road trip.
Per the Twins' press box notes, here are some of their performances in Anaheim and Seattle:
-Joe Mauer: 1-for-17, 1 RBI.
-Josh Willingham: 1-for-18
-Danny Valencia: 2-for-17, 1 RBI
-Denard Span (MVP?): 5-for-24
-Trevor Plouffe: 0-for-8
-Chris Parmalee: 1-for-19
-Alexi Casilla: 4-for-21,1 RBI
-Jamey Carroll: 3-for-21
Remember when Joe Mauer not playing was the Twins' biggest problem?
Well now he plays every day and he's not making an impact. He's hitting .278 with one homer in 97 at-bats. He gets on base, but that's not of much use in a lineup where nobody can drive him in.
With Justin Morneau on the disabled list, there are only two active Twins with more than one home run: Willingham with 5 and Ryan Doumit with 3, and he had one before hitting two yesterday.
Today the Twins will turn to Brian Dozier for a boost. I just hope Ron Gardenhire lets Dozier get comfortable near the bottom of the order. Dozier should eventually be a good big-leaguer, but putting him in the second spot in the batting order would be a bit much for a rookie right now.
Anyway, Mauer is a prototypical No. 2 hitter, and batting him third doesn't do him or the lineup any favors. He doesn't hit for power or drive in runs.
On to the Twins' starting pitchers:
They're 4-16, and their four wins is the fewest by a starting staff in the big leagues. The starting staff has allowed the most runs (111), most home runs (29), and second-most hits (185) in the big leagues. They have the fewest strikeouts (74) and highest ERA (6.73). Opponents are hitting .322 against Twins starters. Again, that's the worst in baseball. (Source: Twins pregame notes)
Tonight, the Twins face Jered Weaver, who pitched a no-hitter against the Twins in his last start.
One sidelight: The Twins committed zero errors on their 1-5 road trip.
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