The Twins used a club-record 36 different pitchers last season, including backup catcher Chris Gimenez. Their offseason maneuvering was intended to improve the quality and depth of their staff so they wouldn't have to surf the waiver wire for more Adam Wilks, Chris Hestons and Tim Mehvilles.
Not even a month of baseball has been played and the Twins already have used 17 pitchers, including outfielder Ryan LaMarre. And a loss like Friday's, a four-hour 15-9 bludgeoning to the Reds at Target Field, could lead to more changes.
"None of them are easy, but this one hurts," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the team's eighth straight loss. "Especially the fact we got off to a good start and had a little bit of a lead to work with."
Molitor's office was closed longer than usual while the Twins discussed changes to the pitching staff. They designated righthander David Hale for assignment and will call up a replacement Saturday.
"We're looking at a lot of options about what we can do," Molitor said.
Righthander Phil Hughes had a four-run lead after the first inning but couldn't pitch out of the fourth. Tyler Duffey failed to plug the leak. Three relievers were needed to get four outs in Cincinnati's six-run fifth inning.
Because the bullpen has been stretched so thin, Molitor had to send newcomer Hale to the mound in the sixth and leave him out there until he had nothing left. That's some one-and-done.
The Reds had a season-high 20 hits and scored 11 unanswered runs at one point. Joey Votto tied a career high by reaching base six times, on three hits, two walks and a hit by pitch. All this done by a 6-20 team.
The Twins have given up at least 10 runs three times over the last eight games, and at least seven runs in seven of the past eight.
The Twins took a 5-1 lead in the first inning with the help of a two-run homer to right-center by Logan Morrison at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat.
So the Twins led the worst team in baseball by four runs. Should be a piece of cake, right?
Cincinnati scored twice in the third to close to 5-3, but the Twins answered with two of their own to restore the five-run lead.
The Reds scored a run in the fourth, but the Twins answered in the bottom of the inning with a run of their own.
So the Twins led the Reds 8-4 through four innings. It was set up for Hughes to cruise, but he lasted just 3 ⅔ innings before Jesse Winker ended his night with an RBI single.
Duffey, however, didn't fare any better.
Votto led off the fifth with a solo homer. Scott Schebler hit a two-run single to make it 8-7. Adam Duvall reached when Duffey picked up his tapper and threw it away.
Ryan Pressly, with 13 scoreless innings on the season, entered. He gave up a sacrifice fly to Tucker Barnhart and an RBI triple to Billy Hamilton to give the Reds a 9-8 lead. Pressly then threw a wild pitch to Winker, allowing Hamilton to score the sixth run of the inning as boos spilled out of the stands. And the run to an eight straight defeat was on.
"It's just happened so fast," Molitor said. "In a limited amount of pitches they did a lot of damage. And we could not slow them down."