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Twins bullpen still terrible, Mariners win 4-1 in 11

Twins fans everywhere are repeatedly slamming their heads into the nearest wall.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

I've refrained from writing about Kevin Jepsen, and to the larger issue of Terry Ryan's failure to improve the bullpen at the trade deadline, simply because I've needed a bit of cooling off time. I didn't watch Friday's game, and I only just saw the highlights from Saturday's game this morning. Suffice it to say that watching today's game didn't help.

Mike Pelfrey was great today. So was Hisashi Iwakuma. Pelfrey gave the Twins eight innings of shutout baseball, scattering four hits and forcing Seattle batters to consistently push the ball into the ground. Two of the Mariners' four hits came on infield singles off the bat of Ketel Marte. Iwakuma was even better in terms of pure stuff, although the Twins hit the ball hard will some regularity. But the ball just wouldn't find grass. Eduardo Escobar's double in the third was Minnesota's only hit until the bottom of the ninth.

Glen Perkins took over for Pelfrey in the top of the ninth, giving up a solo homer to Nelson Cruz with two out. But Brian Dozier, who just barely missed a home run in the sixth, hit an upper deck shot with one out in the bottom half of the inning to tie it up and send the game into extras. Trevor May threw 15 pitches in the tenth, keeping Seattle off the board.

Then came the eleventh, and the Twins debut of Kevin Jepsen. The same Jepsen who had walked 20 batters in 41.2 innings. He proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced, including a wild pitch, a couple of unfortunate minutes of pain for Kurt Suzuki, and no fewer than three saves by Suzuki on pitches that could have quite easily skipped away. Jepsen managed to strike out Cruz for the first out of the inning, but the damage was already done.

Brian Duensing threw five damn pitches. Logan Morrison doubled to score the runner from second and put two runners in scoring position, and Duensing intentionally walked Seth Smith to load the bases. Paul Molitor then turned to Casey Fien, who couldn't stop the bleeding as Austin Jackson snuck a double down the left field line for two more runs.

Terry Ryan's job was to help the Twins get better, and he failed. Granted you don't want the front office to make irresponsible decisions, but there's a different between not making a bad decision and not doing the job. Kevin Jepsen is exactly the type of pitcher who becomes available in August, carrying a million dollar price tag through the end of the season with a guaranteed raise to about $4 million through arbitration next season, all while having fair strikeout rates and sub-par command. We saw a great example of his command today, and that's the exact issue that's haunted him throughout his career - but never moreso than it has in 2015.

The Twins are in the middle of their best and only good season in four years. Their top reliever and closer is having a bit of a hiccup in an otherwise stellar season, but all around him things are falling apart. Reliable set-up man Casey Fien hasn't been as effective, and beyond him it only gets worse as veterans Duensing and Blaine Boyer can't get outs. J.R. Graham is fine in low-leverage mop-up duty; Ryan O'Rourke has been fine in a small sample size but profiles as a LOOGY; May looks like he might be effective in relief but it's early there, too. Minnesota has been screaming for a reliable bullpen arm or two for weeks, and the best that the organization could do is middle relief filler.

Here's hoping that Ryan and his front office can find some additional help for that bullpen in August. Because unless they do, today's wasted brilliant start by Pelfrey and subsequent dumpster fire of a performance from the relief crew is something we'll have to get used to.

The Twins split four with the Mariners at home, and now turn to face the Blue Jays. Right now it's hard to see Minnesota still holding that second Wild Card spot come the next weekend.


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SooFoo Fan: "Not only that, but he's a Redcoat."


Mike Pelfrey
Brian Dozier
Trevor May


Kevin Jepsen
Brian Duensing
Casey Fien