The Twins clubhouse Monday resembled the dramatic scene from the movie “Titanic” when musicians played their instruments amid chaos, hoping to distract paying customers from doom and gloom.
Don’t panic, long season, Twins players said. One bad week of baseball doesn’t make a season, they cautioned.
“To get down on ourselves right now would be ridiculous,” Trevor Plouffe said.
That’s a well-worn viewpoint when a baseball season starts in the gutter, and the Twins are clinging to the “small sample size” notion like a security blanket.
Forgive the rest of us for feeling a little queasy.
The first seven games have been truly bad baseball in every way imaginable. Butchered defense, shoddy pitching, feeble hitting — all of which, combined, adds up to a 1-6 record.
It’s one thing to lose. It’s something else entirely to lose like this.
“We’re not pitching particularly well, we’re not fielding particularly well, we’re not swinging the bat particularly well, and we’re probably not managing particularly well,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Thanks for coming folks. Drive home safely.
The home opener captured all the goriness. Twins fans booed, mocked and finally headed for the exits long before the final out of a 12-3 shellacking at the hands of the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.
Days like Monday are supposed to be joyous occasions, a time to celebrate the start of a baseball season and temporarily forget about four consecutive 90-loss seasons.
That lasted a good five minutes.
The Twins treated their beleaguered fans to — in Torii Hunter’s perfect summation — “Bad News Bears” baseball.
All that was missing was Coach Buttermaker drinking beer in the dugout.
By the end, their performance became slapstick. The Twins, that is. They hit batters on two consecutive pitches by two different relievers and then botched a ground ball in the six-run eighth inning
The Twins have trumpeted their “attention to detail” ad nauseam since Molitor replaced Ron Gardenhire as manager. Here’s an idea: How about showing some attention to catching the ball?
Their defense has been an adventure the first week of the season. Dropped popups, missed cutoffs, bobbled grounders.
They had four, five misplays in the field Monday. Oswaldo Arcia dropped a popup along the line for a hit.
Brian Dozier squandered a chance at a double play when he made a long, soft flip to shortstop Danny Santana on the bag rather than deliver a hard throw.
Hunter missed a cutoff on a wild throw to second on a double over his head, allowing a run to score. Arcia missed a catch at the wall on the next batter.
Santana had a grounder bounce off his glove with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
The Twins’ pitching is worrisome enough without the comedy of errors taking place behind them.
“We need to do a better job of playing baseball,” General Manager Terry Ryan said before the latest debacle.
Molitor has taken a patient, optimistic approach with his team since becoming manager. He believes in the power of positivity, apparently even on days like Monday.
The miscues and unreliable pitching might be turning his stomach into knots, but he said he’s not willing to blow a gasket yet.
“I haven’t really seen a lot of things that in my mind are worthy of reprimand, if that’s the direction you’re trying to go,” he said.
That would be a quick, easy answer, but their problems run deep. This team has revealed so many warts in seven games that fans justifiably feel angry.
Yes, a baseball season is long and seven games is a small sample size. But the Twins have exhausted every ounce of goodwill and benefit of the doubt the past four summers, and so an awful start rightfully gets viewed with skepticism and dread.
“We had a lot of things happen the first week,” Ryan said. “All heck broke loose.”
The home opener did nothing to make anyone feel better. Bad baseball is bad baseball, no matter when it happens in a season.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org