There's something painful about every single loss in a situation like this, because every loss counts. And when they run together in the fashion that they have, it makes it just a little worse. This is not fun. Watching the Twins play the Angels, even though it's on their turf, there's really no question: the Angels are the better team.
Nick Blackburn was his old self for three innings. It was nine up, nine down, 41 pitches and no runs. No hits. No walks. The Twins even scored a pair in the top of the third for a 2-0 lead. Then the bottom of the fourth happens.
Chone Figgins homered, of all people, to lead off the onslaught. Maicer Izturis doubles, Bobby Abreu singles, Kendry Morales doubles, Mike Napoli singles. This makes it 3-2 in favor of the Angels. Then a double play, including a play on Morales at the plate to hold the score. Howie Kendrick singles in another run before Gary Mathews Jr. walks, and with the score 4-2, Angels, Blackburn is lifted. He couldn't do a single thing right in the fourth inning, and it all caught up to him at once.
R.A. Dickey came on to suck up the middle innings, per the 2009 Bullpen Handbook. Two singles, a home run by Izturis and another single later, and the Angels had thrown up a nine-run inning. Blackburn was charged with six of those runs, and it looked like just another game that the pitching staff somehow pissed away.
Jason Kubel's 18th homer in the third inning scored Joe Mauer. In the seventh, Kubel doubled in Denard Span for Minnesota's third run. Kubel scored on a throwing error and Brian Buscher singled in Michael Cuddyer for the third run of the inning, closing the gap to 9-5, but that's as close as it got.
Bobby Keppel threw two scoreless innings and Brian Duensing threw a scoreless seventh, but Jose Mijares let two more drop in the bottom of the eighth to make it 11-5. That's the score.
I know the Twins, and Ron Gardenhire, are interested in Orlando Cabrera. I also know the front office has been actively searching for bullpen help, particularly with the Blue Jays, Orioles and Athletics. But with the way this team is playing right now, so close to the deadline, I have to wonder if any move would be worth the trouble. Today's loss puts the Twins two games under .400, at 48-50, leaving them two games behind the White Sox but five games off the pace of the Tigers. The Twins are currently sixth in the Wild Card standings, behind Boston, Texas, Tampa Bay, Seattle and Chicago.
Right now I'm not sure where this team stands. But wherever it is, it's not a good place. Something needs to turn around and fast, or this season is going to slip away before the calendar turns to August.
Stars of the Game
#3: Bobby Keppel (2 IP, 2 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 0 R, .004 WPA)
#2: Joe Mauer (2-for-5, R, .028 WPA)
#1: Jason Kubel (3-for-4, 2B, HR, BB, 2 R, 3 RBI, .216 WPA)
Dudes You're Bumming Me Out
#1: R.A. Dickey: The game was already spiraling out of control, but you couldn't stem the tide when we needed you to.
#2: Nick Blackburn: Dude, you were just lit up in the fourth. Bad times.
#3: Michael Cuddyer & Justin Morneau: Stranded seven between the pair, with two hits, a walk and a run combined in nine at-bats. Sorry, guys.