On three occasions, I’ve written about moments in the season when it appeared the Twins might fall trap to an extended losing streak. And in two of those cases, I’m happy to say my dire predictions did not come true.
But not this time. After the Twins were swept at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, I was worried about upcoming games against the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays. The Twins also were swept by the Tigers, which extended the losing streak to seven games. And then on Friday, the Blue Jays, a team with the third best offense in the American League, unloaded on the sorry state of Twins pitching with 15 hits, including four home runs, to win 15-8.
The eight-game losing streak — the second of the season for the Twins, by the way — now has them a season-worst 30 games under .500. There might be 34 games left in the 2016 season, but I think it officially ended on Aug. 26 for the Twins.
(Some might say it ended after the season-beginning nine-game losing streak).
The culprit in all of this has been the quality of Twins pitching, which has been atrocious, particularly the starting rotation. Pat Dean, recently recalled to the bullpen, got the start Friday in place of Hector Santiago. But like Santiago, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey and Kyle Gibson before him, Dean got blasted, lasting all of three innings while giving up eight hits and six runs, all earned.
It didn’t get much better from there. Reliever Pat Light, who came to the Twins from the Red Sox in exchange for lefty Fernando Abad, got roughed up in only his third game for the Twins. In one-third of an inning, Light gave up one hit, two runs, both earned, and walked three. He exited the game with an ERA of 16.20.
-The exception in the bullpen was Alex Wimmers. Wimmers, who made his major league debut on Friday with a scoreless inning of relief, was drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2010. It’s apparently been a long journey since then, according to information shared during Friday night’s radio broadcast. Not only did Wimmers struggle with an elbow injury, but he also developed a case of the yips and couldn’t throw strikes, a la Steve Blass, a former pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
3 up, 3 down for Alex Wimmers in his Twins debut. After long, long road the former No. 1 pick has traveled to get here, it has to feel good.
— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) August 27, 2016
-Following the debacle at home against Detroit, pitchers Duffey and Berrios were sent to Triple-A Rochester. I’m not entirely sure who will take their places in the rotation, although Andrew Albers was recently recalled from the minors. Albers, though, did appear in Friday’s game.
-Speaking of long journeys, old friend Francisco Liriano, who first pitched for the Twins in 2005, beat his old club on Friday. Liriano, who came to the Twins in a three-player deal that sent catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants, had some good seasons with the Twins but never became the star he appeared to be. Tommy John surgery likely didn’t help. He won 12 games for the Twins in 2006, 14 in 2010 and 16 for the Pirates in 2013. With the Twins, he was 50-52 over seven seasons.
Ervin Santana gets the ball on Saturday. If anyone can stop the bleeding, it’s him.