The Twins have become savvy over the past quarter-century when it comes to giveaways to the customers for the home opener. On Monday, they offered 40,000 dark blue hoodies with Twins emblazoned across the front.
Those were purchased in bulk and delivered at a cost of $175,000, and were quite an upgrade on what was handed out in the 1990 opener at the Metrodome.
On that night, the Twins gave away printed material for a credit card company. Midway through the game, fans were distracted by the ease with which the Twins were defeating the Angels by an eventual score of 13-1.
An aeronautical expert in the upper deck turned his placard into a paper airplane. There was a cheer when the plane made it to the Dome’s turf, and soon the announced audience of 37,975 had hundreds of those projectiles flying under the Teflon sky.
Monday, the sky was a splendid blue and the temperature was just right — nice enough in the sun to feel warmth, cool enough in the shade to be comfortable in the new hoodie.
This was the sixth opener since the return of outdoor baseball, and the crowd was counted at an overcapacity 40,123. In less than three hours, the Twins lost 12-3 to Kansas City, and demonstrated the disparaging remarks aimed at them during the season-opening road trip might have been overly kind.
There was nothing given away to float on the brisk wind and toward the field, so the attendees responded to this abomination with jeers, boos and catcalls.
Yes, there were enough misplays by the home team that all three were required.
“I don’t know what we played,” Torii Hunter said. “Bad News Bears baseball.”
Kelly Leak, Timmy Lupus and the Aguilar brothers could consider suing Torii for defamation, if they weren’t fictional ballplayers.
The only fiction with the 2015 Twins would appear to be the idea that this could be the club to end the streak of 90-loss seasons, which currently stands at four.
It was that bad Monday … the worst loss by score in the 55 home openers the Twins have played, and worse than that aesthetically.
The misplays started when second baseman Brian Dozier, the Twins’ only Grade A defender, made a long flip rather than a throw and blew a double play in the third inning. The Royals took a 2-1 lead.
Trevor May, in the Twins’ rotation after all, held it there until the sixth. The Royals opened with a single and a double to right, from where Hunter came up throwing to no man’s land and it was 3-1.
Eric Hosmer followed with a drive to left-center. Observers of Oswaldo Arcia’s outfield play knew it wouldn’t be caught; rather, the hope was that he wouldn’t hurt himself. It went as an RBI double, and Ozzie survived to make a diving catch on Kendrys Morales’ drive toward the gap.
May exited after an intentional walk, down 4-1. And now here it was for Twins fans: BT — Bullpen Time.
All in all, it might be less gruesome to see lambs turned into chops.
Tim Stauffer was first, followed by Brian Duensing and J.R. Graham. The Royals scored six runs off that trio in the eighth, with a boost from shortstop Danny Santana playing footsie with a routine bouncer.
Eventually, it took bullpen ace Aaron Thompson to end the carnage.
Advisory to Thompson: Don’t let that “bullpen ace” deal go to your head, son. It’s not high praise with this collection.
The loss put the Twins at 1-6 … seven games in which they have been outscored 45-16. Somewhere, Ron Gardenhire is smoking a cigar, bowling a line and saying to himself, “I’m getting paid for this? Terry Ryan, I love you.”
The Twins have been 1-6 on two previous occasions: in 1981 and in 1994. The 1981 season was interrupted with a two-month players strike. The 1994 season came to an end with a players strike that started on Aug. 12.
Paul Molitor was playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1981, and he was a defending World Series champion with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1994. Now he’s managing the Twins, and when he could use a little labor strife, there’s none in sight.
“There are 155 games left,” Hunter said, one game after reminding reporters it wasn’t time to panic because there were 156 games left.
Agreed. Now is not the time to panic over the Twins. The time to panic was when Ryan, the baseball boss, told his new manager, “Here’s your bullpen.”
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org