Well, to begin, I should establish the positive end of tonight. The best possible roster move finally came: Corky Miller gone, Terry Tiffee up. Thank god! Miller was just a waste of a roster space who likely cost us a few games. Not by screwing up himself, but by wasting bench space that could have been occupied by a much-needed left handed bat. Hopefully, Tiffee will return to be his productive self now that he is more secure in the majors.
However, the night was filled with disappointments. I went to the game tonight hoping that Torii Hunter would make up for last night's disaster, but his performance tonight was just as bad, if not worse. Hunter came up in the first inning after Justin Morneau had struck out with the bases loaded and no outs. All we needed was a fly ball or a grounder. But what does he do? He strikes out without a fight, swinging at two pathetic change-ups, with the last one falling before the plate. His poor plate judgement was symbolic of the Twins' inability to produce with big opportunities presented. They loaded the bases with no outs in both of the first two innings, but only managed one meager run. It took a behemoth Morneau home run and a productive third inning to get them ahead of Cleveland 4-1.
The Twins are now batting .135 (5-for-37) with 12 RBI with the bases loaded after failing to get a hit and scoring just one run in six at-bats tonight with the bases juiced. That's not just bad; that's awful. That kind of hitting is what will keep the Twins from having a championship season. When Hunter or Cuddyer comes up, I take a big gulp and almost turn away. I shouldn't have to. These are guys who either have produced in the past or have the ability to.
I shouldn't be too hard on Cuddyer. He did, after all, go 2 for 4 tonight with an RBI double, but he was awfully schizophrenic. The first two at-bats he had solid hits; the last two, he looked like "Dr. Hyde," flailing away again at bad pitches. Hopefully, he can get it together and help push the team to be more productive in general.
Worse yet, we had a great opportunity in the 9th wasted by poor situational hitting again. After clutch hits by Mauer and Morneau, Hunter weakly grounded out before Jones walked and Ford (who has been a hero lately) grounded out as well. They had 13 hits, yet only scored four runs.
And the pitching wasn't phenomenal either. Carlos Silva looked okay, sometimes getting the ground balls he needed, but giving up 12 hits in eight innings before he was relieved by J.C. Romero. Romero, who looked good for the most part, gave up the game-winning homer to Josh Bard, the backup catcher for Indians! That too shouldn't happen. Romero is supposed to be an elite reliever and should have trusted his breaking stuff in that situation, but he didn't.
All this makes me wonder if we need a new management team. I don't mean Gardy, but the coaches, who seem to strive for mediocrity and have never seemed to fix the bigger problems haunting our players. Why does Hunter still have the same problems in situational hitting and with good breaking pitches? Why has Brad Radke had the same first inning problems his whole career? Why could Cristian Guzman and Luis Rivas never be reached?
Clearly, I'm just frustrated, but something needs to happen. This team is hitting .272 as a team, yet they always seem to fail when they need the hits the most. This needs to change before we really lose the division to the White Sox.