The Twins have fielded a lot of bad teams in their fifty years of existence. And they’ve played some terrible games. But even the most grizzled veteran among Twins fans would have a tough time recalling a series more embarrassing than the one just completed against the Baltimore Orioles.
The worst team in the American League just swept the Twins in a four game series on Minnesota’s home turf by a combined score of 24 – 4. They were outhit 45-25 in the process.
Two Twins’ starting pitchers (Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano) left games before the third inning due to injury. A third starter (Kevin Slowey) failed to make it through the fifth inning. The pitching was so bad that Lester Oliveros’s two inning relief sting was considered a bright spot in the series – even though he required 38 pitches for two plus innings and allowed a run.
The hitting was, if anything, worse. The Twins lineup was filled with weak performances. Jason Kubel went a combined 1 for 13. Jim Thome was 0 for 11. Drew Butera managed to lower his batting average during the series; normally that would be difficult to do, but when he goes 1 for 12 it happens naturally. Joe Mauer managed to hit .333 in the series, but he only had six at bats because he sat out the last two games due to soreness. Fortunately, Trevor Plouffe went 6 for 17 with a pair of doubles; otherwise the hit and run totals would have been even worse.
And those are just the tangible stats that appear in the box score. In real life, it was worse, as a series of minor indignities conspired to squeeze every last drop of life out of the Twins. JJ Hardy opened up the series scoring with a homer to right – a sad reminder that when he doesn’t wear a Twins jersey he’s a powerful hitter. In Tuesday’s game, a Twins fan prevented Joe Mauer from catching a foul pop in the stands, and the batter hit a home run soon afterward. Another foul ball fell right into the bare hand of Oriole third baseman Robert Andino. And the mental mistakes continued, as Luke Hughes was doubled off third base on a play where he could have scored.
Yes, the Orioles play in a tough division, so there’s some temptation to think they’re better than they look. Maybe they’d have a better record if they played in the AL Central. But they’re still a terrible team. They came into this series with a ____ record, and they had not won a series in more than two months. Moreover, the O’s road record was a pitiful 18-42. Before the series in Minnesota, Baltimore hadn’t held an opponent under two runs in a game since June 10th, a span of 63 games, or more than a third of the season. They did it four times in a row against the Twins. The Birds are last in the league in ERA, hits allowed, runs allowed, and 12th in strikeouts. But against the Twins they might as well have had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar pitching instead of Zach Britton, Alfredo Simon and Jeremy Guthrie.
Now, the Twins are just three games ahead of the Orioles in the standings. At this rate, they’ll be back to having the worst record in the American League by the end of the weekend.