Detroit came back for a 6-5 victory over the Twins in another nine-inning marathon (3 hours, 33 minutes) on Sunday at Target Field. This was the fifth time in 25 games the Twins were swept in a three-game series, a display of futility that’s difficult to achieve even for the worst of teams.
Three of those sweeps have come against AL Central opponents. After one turn through the division, the Twins are 2-10 -- 0-3 vs. the White Sox, Kansas City and Detroit and 2-1 vs. Cleveland.
As sheepish as the Indians must feel about losing a series to the Twins, we can only imagine where Angels manager Mike Scioscia rates being swept 3-0 by Paul Molitor’s train wreck among the humiliations in his long tenure in Anaheim.
The Twins’ 7-18 start is an embarrassment for General Manager Terry Ryan, manager Molitor, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, pitching coach Neil Allen and roughly 81 percent of the 32 players who have been in uniform.
I’d give a pass to Joe Mauer, Eduardo Nunez, Byung Ho Park, Trevor Plouffe (pre-injury), Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad at the moment.
That’s it. Everyone else has failed.
And there’s one more embarrassed individual: portly old me.
I watched this outfit for a month in March and wrote a column on the 2016 Twins with the punchline, “What’s not to like?’’
A month into the schedule, I have the answer: Hitting, fielding, pitching, base running and managing.
Those last two categories made a strong surge for further attention in the weekend losses to Detroit.
On Saturday, the Twins were trailing 4-1 in the eighth when Danny Santana reached base to open the half-inning. Molitor took off a stop sign from Santana when Brian Dozier had two strikes.
Dozier is strikeout prone, although with the Twins, that’s like saying he wears cleats.
Santana took off. Dozier struck out. Santana was thrown out at second.
Strike ‘em out, throw-‘em out, three runs down in the eighth?
With Mauer, an on-base machine so far in 2016, on deck, and Miguel Sano behind him, theoretically offering a chance at a game-tying, three-run home run … if Santana had stayed put?
I’m glad Earl Weaver wasn’t alive to hear about this one, because it would have killed him.
On Sunday, Ricky Nolasco had two outs and no runners on with a 5-2 lead in the sixth, and left with a 5-5 tie after serving up one of those three-run home runs to Nick Castellanos.
And then Eduardo Escobar muffed a relay throw that allowed the Tigers to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth, and the loss seemed inevitable ... until Miguel Sano whacked a double into right field with two outs in the ninth.
You never make the last out at third, of course, because when you’re at second with two outs, you can take off instantly when a ball is hit and score on anything that reaches the outfield grass.
Sano kept chugging around second and was thrown out easily at third to end the game.
I suppose a wise baseball pundit out there will say that this blunder is related to Sano being assigned right field as his usual positon this season, since this keeps getting cited as a cause for Twins’ horrendous start.
In reality, Sano being in right field most of the time hardly registers among the crimes committed by the Twins (players, field staff and front office) this season.
Sunday’s final calamity came from a player who had no thought of the game situation as he left the batter’s box.
Period. End of story. End of game, too.
One of my favorite baseball tales came from Rob Wilfong, a former Twins infielder. He wound up being traded to California in 1982, where his Minnesota manager Gene Mauch was now in charge of the Angels.
One night in Anaheim, the Angels were attempting to rally in the ninth, and Mauch sent Wilfong to first base as a pinch-runner.
There was a one-out fly to center. Wilfong tagged up and tried to advance to second. He was thrown out to end the game, with Reggie Jackson as the next hitter.
According to Wilfong’s retelling, Mauch did not play him or speak to him for the next several days. Mauch would simply turn from his usual stance on a dugout step on occasion, stare in dismay at Wilfong, shake his head and look back at the action.
Molitor would be more than justified for staring in dismay, although it would be tough for the Twins manager to decide whether to start with any of 20 players, a coach or a mirror.