Watching the Twins get rocked by the Indians again yesterday afternoon made me wonder about some of our preseason predictions. Obviously, we were concerned about the offense. And putting up zeroes against Jason Johnson is never encouraging. What I wonder about is for one, why is Nick Punto batting in the two-spot again? He's an awful number-two hitter and we should have learned that last year, when our hitters in that spot were atrocious. If anything, if you're sitting Luis Castillo (Gardy are you listening?), move Joe Mauer up to the two spot and, although I'm not a huge fan, put Torii in the three spot and Justin in the five hole. It isn't great, but better than having a rally-killer in the early lineup. Why do I say this? Because Punto went 0 for 4.
Of course, let's not just pick on Punto. I wasn't happy to see Jason Kubel go hitless with a GIDP after (surprise!) Tony Batista got on base with a walk. Nor was I happy to see Justin Morneau go hitless with two Ks after he seemed to break out last night with two homers. About the only positives are seeing Rondell White get his first extra-base hit with a double (though he too killed a rally with a GIDP) and Juan Castro and Luis Rodriguez continuing to get some base-hits. And of course, I love seeing Fransisco Liriano continue to show his fantastic stuff, as he struck out four Indians in 2 and 2/3 innings of work.
But leaving 14 men on base and 4 on with two outs and runners in scoring position is not a good sign. And having the starting pitching, which was supposed to be the Twins' strong point, come out of the box so weak is a worse sign. It's the worst time, especially when Chicago is down (1-4 so far after losing two straight to Kansas City) and Detroit is streaking, with five straight wins to start the year. Of course, Detroit is starting with a somewhat easier schedule, but the point is we needed to start this year strong. An inconsistent offense and poor starting pitching is not just disconcerting; its making me very nervous. What happens this week when Oakland (who's pitching is looking great, after Joe Blanton threw eight shutout innings on Friday and Barry Zito and Co. held the Mariners to one hit last night) visits and the Yankees and their juggernaught offense arrive for the weekend?
Lets just hope that today, with Johan Santana on the mound, we can start to right this ship. I know, its only been five games right? But these are the big opponents and games where we need to be going .500 before beating up on weaker teams. There just aren't enough Tampa Bays out there to destroy weekly; the AL is certainly strong this year and the Twins need to toughen up quick.