After Tuesday's insufferable loss to the lowly Royals, the Twins players, fans, and writers all tried to make excuses and paint the picture a little less bleak. After another loss that essentially followed the same pattern, it's getting quite tough to swallow.
I can't give too many "they are a good team" or "they have a pretty 'darn' good pitching staff"-style excuses. It's pathetic because it's so far from the truth. The Royals have by far the worst pitching staff in the big leagues. Their collective 5.69 ERA, .291 BAA, 177 HRs allowed, .844 OPS, 51% save percentage (lowest), 1.60 WHIP, and 5.54 K/9 (lowest) all rank worst in the American League.
Getting shut down by the likes of Luke Hudson (who pitched the worst game in the last century just a few weeks ago), Joe Nelson, Mark Redman, and Jimmy friggin' Gobble is just embarassing. For the record, Hudson recently recorded one out in an outing against the Indians while giving up 11 runs, 10 earned. His control was bad enough last night that he actually threw a ball way outside to the backstop.
Roy Smalley's reaction? "Just a BIT outside!" (By the way, I actually like Smalley better than Bert. At least he pleaded for Nick Punto to stop those stupid head first slides.) Yet, the Twins only drew one walk against him, from their game superstar Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer had three of the Twins six hits (Luis Castillo, who was unfortunately injured in the game and is out for a few days, had two and Jason Tyner had one) and drove in all the Twins three runs.
Cuddyer went 3-for-3 with two home runs, three RBI, a walk, and two runs scored. He's now hitting .280/.362/.518 on the year with 20 HR and 90 RBI. That sets him on a pace for 25 homers and 113 RBI. I think the Twins would be more than happy with 20-plus homers and 110 RBI or so and they should be.
Too bad Cuddyer's great night wasn't enough. And, like Tuesday night, the Twins sadly wasted another good outing from a young pitcher. This time, Boof Bonser struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced and ended up fanning eight in 5 and 1/3 innings while walking none, giving up seven hits and three earned runs.
The problem, however, obviously wasn't pitching. The Twins offense hasn't looked this bad since last year, despite leading the majors in hitting currently. Justin Morneau hasn't had a bad August (.301, 4 HRs, 22 RBI), yet he has only one home run in his past 11 games. Joe Mauer? Much worse. A .276 average in August isn't much to cry about, but he's hitless in his last 15 at-bats, has almost seen his slugging percentage dive below .500, and even his defensive play is lacking a bit.
Mauer, it appears, is wearing down and so is the team. If the Twins can't handle beating up young and inexperienced Royals pitchers, how are they going to beat the Yankees? Lucky for them, they won't be facing Randy Johnson (I realize he's no longer very good, but could the Twins beat him?), Chien-Ming Wang, or Mike Mussina.
The only real good news right now is that Johan Santana is on the mound today. If nothing else, that gives the Twins a great chance to win. That is, if they can score any runs.