Well, that was ugly, wasn’t it?
There were only three official games last week, but we’ve seen enough misery to fill up about six This Week in Twins columns. The Twins were bad in the field last week, they were bad on the mound, and they were especially terrible on those rare occasions that they had bats in their hands. Three barely competent MLB starting pitchers – Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, and Jason Hammel – completely stymied the Twins. Minnesota managed to score five runs in the series, but not a single one came before the eighth inning in any game.
On the mound, the Twins did not receive a single quality start, though Carl Pavano‘s seven inning, four run performance from Friday could have counted if the Orioles’ scorer hadn’t credited Nick Markakis with an RBI triple on a play that should have been an error on right-fielder Ryan Doumit. Josh Willingham made some errors of his own in left field. All in all, it was a weak performance against an Oriole team that will probably lose 90 games this season. Obviously we need to add the disclaimer that three games is a very small sample size, but it would be a lot nicer if we were drawing unreasonable conclusions from three wins than from three ugly losses.
The Next Week in Twins will be a tough one. Minnesota has to hold its own against the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Disneyland Angels, who were a good team before they added Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, and the Rangers, winners of two consecutive AL Pennants. The Angel series kicks off tonight, but for some inexplicable reason the Twins have an off day tomorrow followed by the last two games in the series. The Ranger series starts on Friday and runs through the weekend.
Even after Scott Baker and Jason Marquis were scratched from their early season starts, Swarzak was not slated to be a part of the rotation. He is essentially the team’s seventh starter, but he utterly outpitched the first two on Sunday. Only a J.J. Hardy solo homer marred Swarzak’s record through five innings.
The Twins’ offense was utterly incompetent this weekend, but you cannot blame that on Morneau. The new DH had just one hit in the opening series that year, but he’s quadrupled that production in 2012. Morneau went 4-10 plus a walk against Baltimore. He also produced a pair of doubles, two of the four extra base hits the Twins hit. The other two belonged to Josh Willingham, who would have made TWIT’s Weekly Winners list if not for his Saturday errors.
He went 0 for 11 at the plate, but it was fun to watch Caroll make all the routine plays and a few not-so-routine plays at shortstop. The ways things stand, the shortstop position is one 2011 headache that the Twins have not had to deal with this season.
Things started brilliantly when Liriano fanned the first three batters he faced. But the fourth, Adam Jones, hit a long home run, and Liriano wasn’t the same afterward. To be fair, many of the eight hits Liriano allowed can be attributed to below average fielding, including a pair of hard grounders that got by Danny Valencia. But Liriano did not do anything to help himself after the first inning. He now owns a 11.25 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, and a .571 BABIP (early season stats are fun!).
Reasonably people may disagree on what qualities make a good relief pitcher. Some want to see blazing fastballs and strikeouts, while others are happy with a pitcher who can avoid walks and induce ground ball double plays. But the one thing a reliever should not do is give up multiple home runs. Burton allowed a pair during his one inning of work on Saturday, which helped turn an unfortunate Liriano start into a Baltimore rout.
With a single play, Doumit managed to solidify all the doubts about his ability to play right field. Sure, he was looking into the sun, but every single Twins fan knew deep inside that Ben Revere would have made that play. That would not be enough to earn Doumit a place on this list, but he also went 0 for 7 at the plate. As the catcher on Sunday, Doumit managed to throw out a runner trying to advance on a wild pitch, but (according to people who know more about this sort of thing than TWIT) he did a poor job of framing pitches. Doumit is a better player than we saw this weekend, especially at the plate, so TWIT hopes that he’ll earn a promotion to the Winners list once we have a full week to work with.