The Twins were swept out of Baltimore in their first series of the year, three games to zero. Over those three games the Twins managed just 5 runs, and 15 hits to go along with two errors and 16 strike outs. As bad as those numbers are, it could have been worse, as the Twins scored late in all three games, with all 5 runs coming in the 8th inning or later. Eerily similar to 2011, the Twins have found themselves down early, offensively challenged and relying on an inexperienced bullpen.
All of that means that the Twins are going to fight an uphill battle to come out of 2012 with a winning record, but it is only three games. In2006, the 5th best team in Minnesota’s franchise history, the Twins won 96 games. That teams started the year just 1-5, and had losing streaks of 3 or more games 8 times. On May 1 that teams was 9-16 and was just routed 8-2 (giving up 19 hits) by a Mariners team that would go on to lose 86 games. That team would go on to lose to the Cleveland Indians by a score of 11-0 TWICE and another 18-1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. Every team is going to have a couple of bad days.
I am certainly not trying to say that the current version of the Minnesota Twins is going to be 30 games over .500, but I think we can hold on to the doomsday conversations for a couple more weeks, after all, those 3 games represent less than 2% of the 2012 schedule, and three losses are only three losses.
There are still a couple of positives to take away from this poor start, and the Twins can build on the things they’re doing well in the home opener later today.
- Justin Morneau continues to hit the ball hard. He’s hitting .400 with 2 doubles and a walk, and a couple of hard line drives that were hit right at defenders for outs. Focusing on hitting the ball is working for Morneau, if he continues to hit the ball like this, it will not matter what Parmelee is doing with the bat (assuming he starts hitting better than the .125 he’s showing now).
- Brian Duensing has made two appearances out of the bullpen, has yet to give up a run and has recorded 2 strike outs. With the exception of newcomes Matt Maloney and Jared Burton, the Twins bullpen has yet to give up any runs. Alex Burnett, Glen Perkins, Brian Duensing, and Jeff Gray have combined to go 5.1 innings with a 0.00 ERA along with 4 strike outs and just 2 hits. Granted, Maloney and Burton have been bad, but the bullpen is not as bad as it seems, there are plenty of guys going out there and succeeding.
- Josh Willingham has a home run, a double, and an outfield assist, throwing out Nick Markakis at home plate in the season opener. Willingham has not looked great in left field (two errors on Saturday), and he will have to turn that around going forward, but if the rest of the Twins lineup warms up a little bit, this team is going to have an offensive to help mitigate some of the problems with the starting rotation.
- Jamey Carroll appears to be a real shortstop. He is not going to win any Gold Gloves, and he might not be as fresh after 40 games at short, but for the time being Carroll is making all the plays and getting to all the balls in his area. Outside of J.J. Hardy‘s injury plagued 2010 season the Twins have struggled to find consistent play from their shortstops for the better part of the last decade. Carroll might just be keeping the spot warm for Brian Dozier, but as long as he’s here, he’s doing everything that’s been asked of him (except hit, despite being a high On Base Percentage guy he has yet to tally a base hit in three games, and has just one walk).
Five runs in three games will not be the norm for this bunch of ball players, unfortunately five runs in three games to start the season takes off a lot of the opening weekend optimism held by fans. But hang in there, 159-3 is still within reach.