Missed Opportunity Could Loom Large
Despite their late surge with the bats in spring training, the Twins looked totally unprepared for the start of the season, as a mediocre trio of starters were made to look like stars. The lineup tallied only two run-scoring hits over the entire weekend (both from Josh Willingham). They never scored before the seventh inning and never came close to taking a lead.
It would be one thing if the season-opening slump could be attributed to tough match-ups, but Baltimore's top three are about as vanilla as you're going to find in the league. Take a look at their respective numbers from last year:
Jake Arrieta: 119.1 IP, 5.05 ERA, 93/59 K/BB, 1.46 WHIP
Tommy Hunter: 84.2 IP, 4.68 ERA, 45/15 K/BB, 1.36 WHIP
Jason Hammel: 170.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 94/68 K/BB, 1.43 WHIP
Now, it's not like there's no talent in that group – Arrieta, in particular, was legitimately nasty on Friday – but to come away from a three-game series with 15 hits and five runs is a major let-down and a wasted opportunity. The Twins won't be getting a chance to swing at mediocre pitching again for quite a while.
With the Angels and Rangers set to come into town this week, here are the next six starters the Twins are slated to face, and their numbers from last year:
C.J. Wilson: 223.1 IP, 2.94 ERA, 206/74 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP
Jered Weaver: 235.2 IP, 2.41 ERA, 198/56 K/BB, 1.01 WHIP
Dan Haren: 238.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 192/33 K/BB, 1.02 WHIP
Matt Harrison: 185.2 IP, 3.39 ERA, 126/57 K/BB, 1.28 WHIP
Yu Darvish (NPB): 232 IP, 1.44 ERA, 276/36 K/BB, 0.83 WHIP
Neftali Feliz: 62.1 IP, 2.74 ERA, 32 SV, 54/30 K/BB, 1.16 WHIP
That's a buzz saw right there. The Twins could start swinging significantly better and still go 1-5 during that stretch, because those are six of the most imposing starters in the American League and they've got strong lineups to back them.
Things get no easier after the homestand. Next week the Twins hit the road for seven games against the Yankees and Rays, then return home for a three-game set against the Red Sox.
Of course, this is nothing new. You've already heard about the brutal first month of the schedule. Unfortunately, the Twins just wasted one of the lone soft spots, allowing the Orioles to walk all over them and looking utterly feeble in the process.
The season is young, obviously, but if the quality of play doesn't improve a lot and in a hurry, the Twins face the grim specter of digging a deep early hole.