What might be more damaging to the Twins than their mounting losses is that they are failing to get their top prospects to produce in the majors.
The Twins on Thursday sent righthanders Jose Berrios and Tyler Duffey back to Class AAA Rochester, a surprising move given that the minor league season ends in just 10 days — barring a playoff berth.
The announcement was made after Berrios was shelled in an 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. The defeat was the Twins' seventh in a row and left them a season-worst 29 games under .500.
Berrios fell apart early, giving up five earned runs over five innings on six hits and five walks. That dropped the Twins' top starting pitching prospect to 2-4 with a 9.24 ERA.
Duffey, 8-10 with a 6.24 ERA, gave up six runs over three innings Wednesday.
The moves were a dramatic statement for the Twins. A team that is trying to sell hope in the form of its young prospects — what else can they sell? — has now added Berrios and Duffey to a Rochester roster that already includes top position prospect Byron Buxton.
As for when Berrios and Duffey might return, Twins manager Paul Molitor said only: 'We'll see how they do the next 10 days.''
Lefthander Andrew Albers will be called up as one of the new additions. The second addition will be announced Friday, perhaps lefthander Nick Greenwood or righthander Jason Wheeler.
Berrios said he was surprised by the decision, but understood it.
"Of course I want to take advantage of my starts down there at Rochester and do what I can to get back up here,'' Berrios said.
Duffey has had problems pitching from the stretch, but Molitor also mentioned that Duffey needs to keep his emotions in check.
"It can be one of those things that can help clear my head and get me on the right track,'' Duffey said.
Berrios could have been pulled from his start much earlier than the fifth inning Thursday. But the Twins couldn't afford to dip into their bullpen and, frankly, Berrios needed the work.
So the rookie took his lumps, and the Tigers led 8-0 after 5 ½ innings.
Berrios fell behind in the count against six of the first nine batters he faced, and it came back to bite him. Justin Upton led off the second with a walk. Berrios was so focused on the next batter, Casey McGhee, that Upton got a huge jump and stole second without a throw.
Berrios got predictable with his pattern, and Upton pounced.
"I can't complain about a young guy in general,'' Molitor said. "But today he got taken advantage of a little bit in that particular instance.''
James McCann singled before Andrew Romine hit a shot that second baseman Brian Dozier made a brilliant diving stop on. But he spun and threw wildly to second while trying to start a double play, allowing Upton to score. Ian Kinsler followed with a two-run double, and the Tigers led 3-0.
Berrios fell behind four straight batters in the third inning, and McCann, who was 4-for-5, crushed a three-run homer to center that was estimated at 427 feet. Detroit led 6-0.
"The thing that bothers me is how I'm missing my spots and how I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing,'' Berrios said.
Berrios will have to work on those things at Rochester and not in the majors.
"[It's] backing off of the pressure and trying to implement some of the things he's working on in a less stressful environment,'' Molitor said.
"I love getting guys experience. Especially where we are where we are. But it becomes a point where it doesn't seem like the right thing.''