This was so long ago that major league baseball teams still took commercial flights most of the time. The Twins were coming home from a successful road trip, even though they had lost the final game of a three-game series.
Ralph Rowe was a baseball lifer and the Twins’ hitting coach. The mood was light among the Twins’ delegation. I was on the same flight as a beat writer.
Rowe looked across the aisle and started explaining how difficult it was to sweep a three- or four-game series in the big leagues, no matter the opponent.
Ralph died in 1996. That means he came up two decades short of watching the current Twins, a ballclub that could have changed his opinion on the difficulty of gaining a sweep or getting swept, no matter the opponent.
The 2016 Twins were swept in three three-game series to open the season, and then in three more three-game series over the next 22 games.
That added to six three-game series sweeps suffered in a season’s 31 games (as well as a three-game sweep over the Angels). Ralph Rowe was spinning in his grave back home in Newberry, S.C., I’m guessing.
Since that lightning start with 0-3 series, the Twins took another three-game sweep in the chops from Detroit on May 16-18. They then managed one win in the first four-game series of the season vs. Toronto to start this homestand.
That took us to the arrival of the World Series champions on Monday night.
Kansas City had 17 hits and squeezed out a 10-4 victory against Ricky Nolasco. On Tuesday, the Twins sent out Erv Santana, the best starter for (Paul) Molitor’s Motley Crew through seven appearances.
Santana lasted 3⅔ innings and the Twins were down 6-1 when all the damage was added up. This increased his earned run average from 3.13 to 4.17 — not quite fully Twins-like, but getting there.
Combined, these expensive veteran righthanders worked 6⅓ innings and allowed 17 hits, four walks and 12 runs vs. the Royals.
And you’re still asking why the owners, the Pohlad brothers, might have gained a renewed reluctance to go large in the market for starting pitchers?
The final was 7-4 for the Royals on Tuesday. Kansas City now needs a victory Wednesday afternoon to make it eight sweeps inflicted on the Twins in 46 games.
That is 28 percent of the schedule and would put them on pace to be swept in a three-game series or longer 28 times.
The 2015 Twins were swept six times. They also were 40-36 in the AL Central. After Tuesday’s loss, they are 4-19 in the division — 4-2 vs. Cleveland and winless against K.C., Detroit and the Mighty Whiteys.
Fire Terry Francona!
There have been daily calls from selected media members and much of the sporting public for heads to roll as the Twins have collapsed to 11-34.
Go for it. Keep bellowing.
The Twins are 12 games out — of fourth place — after Tuesday’s loss. There are no changes to be made over the final four months of the season that will allow the Twins to escape the American League Central’s sub-basement.
Ownership and the front office have been caught fully by surprise with the astounding ineptitude. I don’t blame them for that.
The Twins had Santana and improving Kyle Gibson at the top of the rotation, a trim Phil Hughes looking for a rebound, and Tommy Milone and a last-chance Nolasco in the rotation. Tyler Duffey and Jose Berrios were in the wings. Not bad depth.
Who knew that Gibson would be awful and then hurt, and Berrios would arrive overmatched, and the rotation would turn into a mess?
Who knew that Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, a rookie tandem better than the Twins had in years in 2015, would both go in the tank?
Sano is the most vitally important player the Twins have added to the lineup since Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau more than a decade ago. If you had Sano at .219 with 19 RBI and a major-league leading 66 strikeouts on May 24, congratulations on your genius.
It’s a disaster, and no heads rolling right now will change that. Ride it out. Let the current anger turn to apathy.
When the ordeal of a 100-loss season comes to an end, allow the owners to make the changes — general manager, manager, scouting director, support staff — when there is a full availability of first-grade options.
Remember, many dummies wanted Sam Mitchell to be fired during the Timberwolves season, but owner Glen Taylor waited to have a full menu of options and a fresh start.
The Pohlads would be astute to do the same.
Patrick Reusse can be heard
3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500.