In 2013, the Oakland Athletics averaged 9.7 runs per game in their seven tilts against the Twins, and 4.5 runs per game against all other opponents.
Oakland's reign of terror against the team that ruined its happy ending in Moneyball
continued this week, as the A's thoroughly dismantled Minnesota in a rather sparsely attended home-opening sweep.
After investing $84 million into the rotation during the offseason, the Twins have received painfully similar results from their starting pitchers. The first series at Target Field was all too familiar: three games in which the starters dug an early hole and the offense couldn't dig out.
In total, the Twins have gotten one quality start from their rotation in nine games during a 3-6 start. They are getting blasted. Meanwhile, their best starter from 2013 sits in the bullpen waiting to mop up the messes that have been created.
The decision to move Samuel Deduno into a relief role seemed strange at the end of camp and seems stranger now. He's certainly among the top five pitchers on the club in terms of stuff, and he's been on a heck of a run the last couple years, but he's being forced to sit around in the bullpen while the Twins' signature brand of bat-seeking two-seamers gets plastered all about the yard.
Deduno as a reliever just doesn't look like a fit. He's pitching in a role where the situations are often close and late, and every mistake is magnified.
Case in point: in his first appearance of the season, Deduno entered in the 11th inning of a 6-6 game. He put a couple runners on base and then ended up letting the winning score in on a wild pitch.
In one of the games against Oakland, he turned a three-run deficit into a four-run deficit by balking in a run.
Even Deduno's fiercest proponents (I consider myself one of them) would not deny that he is erratic and mistake-prone. He's a wild card on the mound.
When given six innings, he can make up for his missteps by baffling the majority of opposing hitters. But he's not a guy you want to be bringing into a one-run game with runners on base.
So the assignment seems forced. To his credit, the miscast mop-up man has performed well overall; after tossing three scoreless innings in relief of Mike Pelfrey Thursday, Deduno owns a 3.00 ERA with nine strikeouts in eight innings. But he's not in the proper role and he's being set aside for some guys who are not getting the job done.
I have no illusions that the Twins are going to be a playoff team this year, but I think I speak for every fan out there when I say that the type of games witnessed at Target Field this week are quickly going to drain my interest. There should be little patience for these shoddy performances.
Kevin Correia's leash ought to be exceedingly short. He's not in the future plans and he's not very good right now.
I have more faith in Mike Pelfrey and Phil Hughes, and both are signed beyond this year, but if their results don't improve the Twins shouldn't hesitate to swap one with Deduno and put it on their shoulders to force their way back into the rotation.
After all, Deduno is the only one who has really earned anything. He had a 3.83 ERA last year. He was the team's only good starter. What's going on here, anyway?
In a lot of respects, I have a hard time getting worked up about the Twins' bad start, mostly because my expectations were quite low to begin with.
But some of the decisions that have led them to where they're at are hard to stomach. They're starting Chris Herrmann and Darin Mastroianni in right field within the first 10 days of the season because they waived their only credible fourth outfielder in order to keep Jason Bartlett. Their best starting pitcher from last year is relegated to a mismatched relief role despite out-pitching everyone else in spring training.
I want to believe in this regime. There have been signs that things are heading in a better direction. But what I'm seeing so far has me both scratching and shaking my head.