Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, there was a baseball club which went by the name Minnesota Twins. They were considered to be a good team, with All-Star talent, a decent if not deep farm system, and enough money to put together and keep a talented group of players on the field. Then, one day, Ben Zobrist was blessed by the baseball gods on the same day they cursed this once highly-regarded franchise.
I'm taking some poetic license there, but let's not beat around the bush: this was one of the the worst ass kickings I've ever seen the Twins take. Some games are hard to watch, some games make you angry or confused or frustrated, but games like this...well, it's like looking at some catastrophe and not being able to look away. Once MLB.tv actually started working for me again (thankfully I missed all of Nick Blackburn's short afternoon), I couldn't turn it off. It was just. Too. Terrible.
The bright spots are few and very far between.
Michael Cuddyer put Minnesota's first run on the board with a solo home run in the fourth, which drew the Twins to within six at 7-1. He was 2-for-3 with a walk today. People will be on his case all season for his production, regardless of how he hits, almost entirely because of how much money he makes, but I think it's very realistic that he could turn in a .265/.335/.450 season with 20 home runs. And I'd live with that.
Rene Tosoni, in his Major League debut, picked up a pair of hits and an RBI. He put good wood on the ball and rarely looked overmatched, which is good. But Wilson Ramos didn't look overmatched in his first few games with the Twins, until they started throwing him something besides fastballs. Of course we expect Ramos to adjust, as will Tosoni, but that learning curve is often steep. We'll see how he does from here, but this was definitely a positive start to his career in The Bigs.
The only pitcher who didn't completely shit himself was Matt Capps. Dick and Bert can say what they want about guys pitching longer than their "conditioning", but they were all terrible. Nick Blackburn was squeezed, but when you're giving up eight hits and four walks in 3.1 innings you're just not going to be effective. Jim Hoey, Jose Mijares, and Dusty Hughes combined for five innings, eleven hits and eight runs. Nice work, fellas. But Capps came on in the top of the ninth with one out and runners on second and third, and picked up the games last two outs on six pitches without letting run number 16 cross the plate. That's a success.
It would be easy to sit here and pick certain things apart, but right now there's not really a point to it. Yes, Gardy risked wasting Capps for tonight's game instead of just letting Hughes get the final two outs in what was already a massive blowout...because really, what's the difference between 17-3 and 15-3? Nothing. And yes, I could pull charts of the strike zone and talk about how this game could have been much different if Tim Welke's strike zone wasn't, at times, the size of a quarter.
But it's over now. And there's some releif in that.
In a few hours the Twins kick off game number two of a double-header, and our old pal Anthony Swarzak gets his first chance to pitch for his big league team since August of 2009. We'll have the game thread up for you in the next couple of hours, so in the mean time...take a break. Have a drink, eat a sandwich, play with the kids or dog and think of something that isn't half as crap as this game just was. It won't be hard to do.