I think we've discussed the essential concending of the season by the Twins many times this year, but never was it so apparent as it was yesterday that the season is likely over. It doesn't matter who we play, how great our pitching is, we can lose to a team as bad as the Kansas City Royals 1-0. And get 13 hits. And have 16 baserunners. And nearly break a baseball record, which happens to be 14 hits in a shutout loss. (That hasnt happened since 1928) As the Royals Terrence Long put it, "That's something we do." Yeah, it is. The Royals are known for inept offense and bad pitching. That's why they are in last place and lost 19 straight games this year.
But the Twins have had an amazing run of pitching. Behind the Athletics, their 2.40 ERA for the month of August is sparkling. But the 16-14 record that accompanies it isn't. The last two teams we have played were they Rangers and the Royals, two teams with some of the worst pitchers in the majors. We were shut out twice in that time and when we scored, it was against a guy like Jose Lima, who may be the worse pitcher in the bigs. We can't score against the worse staffs, so how can we face the Indians this weekend (who have some very good pitchers in Cliff Lee, Sabathia, and their bullpen) and expect to win? When you have thirteen hits and opportunities at every corner to score and NEVER come through, there isn't a big problem. Its catastrophic. Guys like Nick Punto either need to be sent down, let go, or need to be developed more. But that doesn't seem to happen with the Twins. The problem is no one learns from their mistakes.
Justin Morneau still chases bad pitches and allows pitchers to run all over him. (He had a good week, yes, but that's not convincing to me) Brad Radke still has first-inning wooes. Terry Mulholland is still a Twin and is still used in big situation. (Why, oh why, was he in last night to hold the lead??) Nick Punto still lacks all the fundamentals beyond bunting. Terry Tiffee still can't play defense. So it comes down to either the talent really was never there (that may be possible with some of these guys) or the coaching staff has failed. I think the latter may be more to blame. At this blog, we haven't been too hard on Gardenhire, but maybe we should be. I can let Radke's wooes go because it seems that Anderson does a good job. He knows the guys from his days in the minors and the staff has a 3.58 ERA. He must be doing something right. But Gardenhire constantly makes bad decisions and puts the wrong guys in the doghouse while letting the real problematic players just keep on players.
Guys like Punto, Mulholland, Cuddyer, and LeCroy seem to get his blessing, while Ford (not great at plate, but he tries) or Guerrier seemed to be thrown in the doghouse with the first problem. Remember when Ford failed to bunt LeCroy over to third and he protested to Gardenhire? He was right the whole time, but Gardy can't see his mistakes. When Guerrier gave up a hit and Tiffee made a huge error, he took out a guy who seems to have good stuff, but is seldom used in exchange for a guy who has no stuff and is always used in the wrong situation. I don't completely hate Gardenhire, but I think he needs to go. And Ulger needs to pack his bags with him. Clearly the attitude that they inspire isn't working. We need to develop guys and we need to start now.
Beyond that, the season is clearly over. Even if Ryan and Gardy smarten up enough to bring up Liriano and Bowyer, its probably too late. We already gave away games by letting Mays continue to start and we haven't spark anything with the offense. There are no great hitters waiting in the wings, so we need to change gears as a club. Its sad that we won't make the playoffs and we probably won't be in contention anytime soon with the way things look. Without any "midlevel" free agents who can contribute, without any budding offensive superstars, we are left to try and salvage things from within. And we won't do it with Gardy around.