Last night, an awful 8th inning in the field for the Twins helped Kansas City to a 4-3 win. It marked the fourth straight defeat for hometown 9, bringing their record to 9-16. They are currently tied with the South Siders for last place in the AL Central. If you have seen any Twins games this week, it makes you nauseous. And one can only think, it can't get much worse.
Injuries have plagued the Twins so far in 2011. Starters Joe Mauer (leg weakness/viral infection), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken fibula), and Delmon Young (Flu/Oblique) all have missed a good portion of April. Other mainstays such as Justin Morneau and Jim Thome have battled minor ailments, but they kept them out of the lineup for a few games. So filing the lineup card on a daily basis has not been easy for Manager Ron Gardenhire.
And when your key players are spending more time in the trainers room, than being on the field, your run production is going to suffer. The Twins rank at the bottom of the Major Leagues in runs, home runs, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. To prove how bad it is, the Twins have played 225 innings this year. In those 225, they have had just 8 innings where the offense has gotten four or more hits in an inning. That comes out to three and a half percent.
But perhaps the big problem of the offense is having inept hitting catchers Drew Butera and Steve Holm behind the plate. Together they have hit a combined .118 with 4 RBI. And what makes it worse is that former C's Jose Morales (.227 AVG, 4 RBI, .346 OBP in 8 games with COL) and Wilson Ramos (.373, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 16 games with Washington) are doing much better than Butera or Holm.
And lets not forget that Twins pitching has been sub-par this year as well. Francisco Liriano (9.13 ERA) has just been shelled in seemingly every one of his starts. Joe Nathan was removed from the closers role because his velocity and command have been very bad. And besides Jose Mijares and Glen Perkins, the middle relief has been horrible.
But perhaps my biggest cringe this year has been watching Alexi Casilla play shortstop everyday. He will make some good defensive plays, but then it gets evened out with his booting of a routine play (i.e. last night's 8th inning). Offensively, it has gotten predicable. Lately all he seemingly does is flyout weakly. A guy with decent speed that he possesses should be trying to hit the ball on the ground and use that speed. He only carries a .227 average coming into tonights game. So the leash on him has to be getting close to choke level, especially with Trevor Plouffe continuing his offensive surge down at AAA-Rochester (.261, 5 HR, and 12 RBI).
This is by far the worst I have seen this team play under Ron Gardenhire. Everyday it seems like the same story that results in another loss. The last time the Twins were in last place this late in the season was in 2000, and that team finished last at season's end. So you have to ask yourself, it can only start getting better...right?