When a team loses 99 games in a season, the start of the next year at least contains the hope that "we can't be as worse as last year...right?!". Well, in the three games (all losses) after the season opener, all the Twins have proved is that they are no different (at least not yet) in a few key areas from last season.
-Francisco Liriano is still a basket case when it comes to letting the game snowball on him. When he is in his groove, he is lights-out. However, as soon as any given game throws him the least bit of adversity (like a junk home run last Saturday), he melts down, starts walking guys, and can't locate his pitches to save his life. This results in meatballs over the plate and runs on the scoreboard for the opposition. If this continues, Liriano will not be a Twin in 2013 (or perhaps even after the AS break this year). I'm not panicking yet, just one start into the season, but it was distressing nonetheless.
-We get a great pitching performance from a guy like Anthony Swarzak...and back it up with absolutely NO hitting. For a team that seems to have some decent bats in the lineup, the lack of run production (or even overall hits) has been very unnerving. I understand that the pitching comes first, but it sure makes the pitchers relax a little when the batters are swatting the ball around a bit.
-Josh Willingham has been mashing the ball. Great. Wonderful. This is EXACTLY what the team needs right now. Yet, his impact on games has been roughly "zero" due to his defensive miscues (one pictured above). It always sounds like "old hat", but if the Twins are ever going to compete for this division again, it will come in large part from solid, fundamental defense. I was at the home opener, and it seemed like our bats were starting to heat up a bit as the game reached the later innings. I had a feeling that if we could just keep the game close, this was one we could win. Then, Carroll can't keep a ball in front of him, Willy-Nilly lets one right through the wickets, and suddenly the game is out of reach.
Right now, the Twins are the only team in baseball without a victory. They will continue to be the black mark until they "clean up their act" in those above categories.