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  • Missed Opportunity Could Loom Large

    In their opening series against the Orioles, the Twins didn't pitch especially well and they played some horrible defense. But without question, the story of the weekend was a complete lack of offense against a Baltimore staff that led the majors in runs allowed last year.

    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.
    This article was originally published in blog: Missed Opportunity Could Loom Large started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Glad I have seats today in left field. Always try to buy seat in the outfield when Blacky pitches as it is almost always a guaranteed 3-4 opportunities for home run balls from the visiting team. WHY IS THIS GUY ON THE ROSTER???? Oh, it is only because he has a stupidly lucrative big league deal. Blacky couldn't start for the Saints!
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      Considering how great we ended spring training, this is a little bit of a suprise to start the season. Let's hope our bats find themselves again.
    1. sotafan's Avatar
      sotafan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gernzy View Post
      Considering how great we ended spring training, this is a little bit of a suprise to start the season. Let's hope our bats find themselves again.
      It doesn't matter if we find our bats. There is no way our pitching will hold up. We will need to score at least 5-7 runs per game to have a chance at winning 75 games this year. Our pitching SUCKS and we don't have the power or the players to keep up with anyone the in the AL. Here is to the #1 draft pickl in 2013!!!!!
    1. SirLoin's Avatar
      SirLoin -
      I got a baaaad feeling about this......

    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Glad I have seats today in left field. Always try to buy seat in the outfield when Blacky pitches as it is almost always a guaranteed 3-4 opportunities for home run balls from the visiting team. WHY IS THIS GUY ON THE ROSTER???? Oh, it is only because he has a stupidly lucrative big league deal. Blacky couldn't start for the Saints!
      I'll assume you know what the words "almost" and "always" mean, and I'll assume you're not a liar, so could you point me toward where you found this statistic?

      Congratulations on your role in the front office or on-field staff with the Saints, though. That's gotta be a pretty cool and fun job!
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Agreed on the sentiment of this article, Nick. I don't know if I can ever remember there being absolutely loaded teams at the top of every division like this...and then to have to play basically five of the top six all in a row to start the year? Yikes. Not that three games to start off was going to be a great foothold even if they went well, but it sure would have been nice to get a couple wins there with the oncoming train behind the first series. At least it's baseball...weird things happen all the time.
    1. whydidnt's Avatar
      whydidnt -
      On a positive note, the Rays faced a similar trio to open the season vs. Baltimore last year with similar results and manged to win the wild card. The Twins aren't dead, and really shouldn't we be past the point of being intimidated by playing teams predicted to win the league? I thought that was the point of subsidizing a stadium, to allow the Twins to compete with the rest of the league, right?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Missed opportunity for what? 77 wins instead of 75?
    1. MileHighTwinsFan's Avatar
      MileHighTwinsFan -
      I think if anything this stretch will test the character of the team. The real measure might be how they bounce back in May. My sense of the club is that the combination of veteran leadership and the classic one game at a time philosophy will result in a bounce, eventually. I have been most impressed with the quotes coming from Willingham and Doumit - they seem to represent the Twins' philosophy well. We'll see how it translates.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Missed opportunity for what? 77 wins instead of 75?
      Just saw 'em lose the opener on TV to go 0-4 (live in L.A) Think it's gonna be a 100+ loss season. They don't have anywhere near the offense to overtake a pitching staff that's going to let up at least 5 runs every game. 6 runs in 4 games, no rallies, shoddy defense. And, even if they get a lead, it'd be a miracle if Caps isn't terrible. Had a little optimism pre-season like a lot of us, but, now, my mantra will remain - fire Gardenhire.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      It's only 4 games in, but the start of the 2012 season could not have gone worse for the Twins:

      - After losing 99 games last season, there has to be some doubt among the players themselves. This start can't help.

      - Ditto for management, there has to be some self doubt. 4 games into the season Gardy apparently doesn't know who the everyday player is for at least 3 positions, and he's already calling out Valencia in the papers.

      - A fan base already uneasy at best, downright disinterested at worst, is already wondering why they should spend major league prices to see what doesn't look, at least right now, like a major league product. Tix for Wed's game start at $5 on Stubhub. Diamond Box seats for $20, and box seats behind homeplate can be had for $32.

      - The rest of the April schedule is pretty unforgiving. This could get pretty damned ugly.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Chief you are correct, this could get ugly real quick with the schedule over the next two weeks. On the bright side, Blackburn pitched really well today. Take away the first inning and make a few plays behind him and he really controlled a very good lineup. If someone else could hit the ball besides "the Hammer", perhaps we can win 75 to 80 games this year. Not a sure thing by any means, but it is possible.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Missed opportunity for what? 77 wins instead of 75?
      +1,000,000 . They're going nowhere.

      Except for Willingham, who will be going to a contender before July if he can post his typical numbers while playing half his games in Target National Park.

      The Twins named Willingham are out-RBIing the Twins not named Willingham, 4 RBI to 2.

      It's hard to remember the last time a baseball franchise collapsed like this one. The farm system started to decline before Ryan left, yet managed to hit rock bottom just as the big club did.

      Maybe another year spent flirting with 100 losses will be what it takes to cause the Twins to start questioning their organizational philosophies, starting with their hatred of strikeout pitchers and power hitters. I'm betting not.
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