Yesterday afternoon was a nauseating feeling for Minnesota Twins fans.
It was bad enough the team blew a four-run lead in the eighth inning, but they actually revitalized the 35,000+ onlookers hopes that they could, in fact, still win the ballgame after Joe Mauer got his fifth hit of the game, a game-tying solo homer in the tenth.
Of course we know the outcome, a 9-8 loss on a Michael Brantley sacrifice fly in the 12th that ultimately sank Minnesota, and will go down as one of the worst losses this season.
Judging by Twitter, no one seemed to care. There were more tweets about the last day of Vikings training camp, or ANYTHING ELSE that was going on at that time, than a relatively entertaining matinee matchup.
If you are one of the few that do still care about this club, yesterdays loss got us thinking how bad this team really is that they could blow a seemingly in-the-bag game and end up losing in the fashion they did.
Since it's gotten no worse for this club this millennium than the past two seasons, let's stack up this hapless group of Twins against those.
On this date:
2013: 53-65, 16.5 games out of first in the central, -60 run differential.
Alarming issues: 27th in the majors in ERA (qualifying team leader in ERA is Kevin Correia at 4.59), 26th in the majors in batting average, former MVP clearing waivers, Joe Mauer has struck out an astounding 86 times (88 last season after never posting a year above 65).
Summary: Everyone knew the pitching staff wasn't going to be good, but this team finished 11th in the majors last year in batting average, an offensive struggle like this couldn't have been anticipated. Mauer is striking out at what amounts to an absurd rate in his book, fanning two times less than last year in 39 less games. He's walked 27 times less than he's struck out, marking just his second full season in the league he will finish with less walks than strikeouts.
2012: 50-67, 14.5 games out of first in the central, -84 run differential.
Alarming issues: A 24-37 home record, a pitching staff that finished 28th in the league in ERA, committed 107 errors which was 4th worst in the AL, another former MVP clearing waivers.
Summary: This team ended up losing 96 games, just three better than the year previous. Again, the pitching was outrageously bad, and injured as well, nine different hurlers logged double digit starts, only three of them posting a sub-five ERA. Nick Blackburn was the worst offender, starting 19 times with a massive 7.39 ERA. Francisco Liriano was traded midway through the season and STILL led the team in strikeouts with 109. Offensively, this was at the height of the Twins power outage (finished 27th in the league in homers), so the spacious Target Field didn't help that, which contributed to the poor home record. Defensively and overall, Twins baseball as we know it was founded off fundamentals and small ball; solid defense was one of those, which failed them last year. Also, if waivers weren't confusing enough to you, Twins fans, how does Joe Mauer clear them (high salary)? We don't know, but he did last year, similarly to Justin Morneau this year.
2011: 53-67, 10.5 games out of first in the central, -108 run differential.
Alarming issues: Once again, awful pitching, 29th in the league in ERA. In order, here are the Twins top eight hitters with 200 or more plate appearances: Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Ben Revere, Delmon Young, Denard Span, Alexi Casilla, Danny Valencia, Jim Thome. Notice, this was just two years ago, and seven of those eight are no longer with the team.
Summary: This team crashed HARD, losing 29 of their last 42. Leader in wins on the pitching staff that year was Carl Pavano...with NINE. No pitcher reached double digit wins! Relievers ERA was a ridiculous 4.51, with Dusty Hughes making 15 appearances out of the bullpen and posting a 9.95 ERA. Why keep throwing him out there?
It seems obvious, this is the exact same team the Twins have had the previous two seasons. A bad pitching staff, an offense that has it's ups and downs, and one that is eliminated from the playoffs early that will likely lose a lot in September because there's nothing to play for and a lot of young guys will see time. That being said, look at that run differential, it could always be worse right?