Blankenhorn and Arraez Make Back-to-Back Errors to Lose to Oakland
Everyone remembers this game in Oakland. In fact, it was such an important inflection point in the season that Nick Nelson chose it as the most important moment of April. As season-defining as it was, the bottom of the tenth of that game was equally embarrassing.
After a tough start, the Twins battled back to take a 10-7 lead in the game, and then promptly blew about three different chances to win the game and it went to (the dreaded) tenth inning. Byron Buxton bent the universe to his will (as he does) with a two-run homer in the top of the tenth, but it only set the stage for a meltdown in the bottom of the inning. Alex Colome, who had already blown a save, had loaded the bases, but there were two outs and the Twins still led by two, so any ball in the infield would surely end the game, right?
Wrong. Travis Blankenhorn basically farted on a grounder to second that scored one run. Then Luis Arraez fielded a bouncer to third, but missed first base by a good six feet on his throw, and just like that, the Twins blew their fourth and fifth chances to win the game and Oakland was dogpiling. Pathetic.
Rob Refsnyder Introduces Himself to the Camden Yards Wall
Remember when Rob Refsnyder was a thing? The 30-year-old journeyman was filling in at the center field spot for Buxton and for a second there, you couldn’t tell the difference between the two. Refsnyder was swinging a scorching bat and had some timely hits that helped the Twins to a 10-6 record in his first sixteen games in the lineup. However, in that sixteenth game, Rob took his Buxton impression a little too far and freight-trained himself into the center field wall, injuring himself and ruining the Refsnyder-as-cult-hero vibe the Twins had going on.
Also, no image encapsulates the 2021 Twins better than this:
...and getting clowned on by one of the worst teams in baseball didn’t help.
Yermin Mercedes Tees Off on Astudillo
Okay, this one isn’t even really about the Twins, as it has more to do with infighting between Tony La Russa and his players. But the only issue the White Sox had all year was played out over the backdrop of them consistently brutalizing the Twins on the field, and that’s a tough look.
As a reminder, the Twins were getting shellacked by Chicago and sent Willians Astudillo out to the mound while they limped through the final innings. Yermin Mercedes came up with two outs and on a 3-0 count, he deposited Astudillo’s 47-mile-per-hour offering into the shrubs in center. La Russa, Roy Smalley, and basically nobody else got mad about it, but it became a sports news cycle topic for a few days, reminding the national audience that the Twins stank and the White Sox, even with their (invented) issues, didn’t.
Also, all that stuff aside, you can’t watch this as a Twins fan and not be a little embarrassed:
Almost Getting No-Hit at Home Against Angels
On July 24th, Patrick Sandoval took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Twins that was broken up by a Brent Rooker double with two outs left to get. I was at the game that night, so maybe that’s why this sticks with me, but the offense almost could not have looked worse. They struck out thirteen times against Sandoval and the mental gymnastics I was doing to justify buying a ten dollar beer was more entertaining than watching the at-bats the Twins were putting up on the field. It was a clown show.
Then, Rooker and Donaldson turned two doubles into one run to make it 2-1, but they couldn’t complete the comeback and somehow that was even worse than getting no-hit.
The Ones That Got Away
Okay, these next two aren't really moments, but it’s my article, so who’s going to stop me from breaking my own rules? (Editor's Note: Ahem...) Anyway, Whether it’s star players traded away or cut-bait guys who find a huge role elsewhere, perhaps nothing haunts us as Twins fans more than former Twins finding success elsewhere. And there was plenty more of that again this year. Nelson Cruz is hitting homers in the playoffs for the Rays. José Berríos was dicing guys in meaningful games down the stretch for Toronto. Freaking Lamonte Wade Jr. just can’t stop getting big hits in big spots for the 107-win Giants. Even guys like Matt Wisler and Hansel Robles are giving playoff teams important innings this postseason. Also Eddie Rosario is on the Braves, but that one honestly doesn't feel so bad.
Seeing the pieces of what should have been your contending team make a difference for real contenders throughout the league is especially humiliating.
Signing Andrelton Simmons and Alex Colomé
When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine brought Colomé and Simmons to the club, I, along with many others, was pumped. Here was our big late-inning guy and the shortstop upgrade we needed; let’s go win a division. Uh huh.
Colomé was sneakily not bad over the second half of the year, but he blew enough games early in the year that his success later in the year (when the games didn’t really matter) will be forgotten. It turns out the the secondary numbers and, you know, every other team in the league was right: he’s not that good.
Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons wasn’t just not that good, he was a dumpster fire. Expected to be at least capable at the plate and excellent at shortstop, Simmons slashed a putrid .223/.283/.274 and was nearly special enough in the field to make up for it. He was completely and entirely awful.
Falvey and Levine were roundly praised for bringing these guys in, but now they’re facing unfamiliar criticism partially due to these guys’ falling well short of their expectations.
Were you able to laugh a little about it? What moments did I miss? Let me know in the comments!