Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse recently produced an interesting ditty, ranking all 62 seasons of Twins baseball from first to worst. No surprise: No. 1 was the Twins’ 1991 World Series victory.
But I was puzzled at his choice for worst season of all time, thinking it might be 2016 or 1982, two seasons in which the Twins lost more than 100 games. His pick was 2011, which didn’t strike a chord with me, but upon closer inspection it deserves to be included among the bottom feeders.
After the Twins christened the 2010 opening of Target Field with a division title, they got off to a slow start the following season. They showed improvement in June and July and then really hit the skids, producing a 13-41 record in August and September. September was especially bad. The Twins were 6-20 that month and it included an 11-game losing streak.
The 11th loss was a 5-4 defeat to the Seattle Mariners. Twins starter Kevin Slowey fell to 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA. One would hope that was Slowey’s last start of the season, but no, he lost the next one too, ending his 2011 at 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA. Ugh.
During the losing streak, the Twins also found time to lose to the New York Yankees (of course).
“No one wants to have 100 losses and I damn sure don’t want to manage a team with 100 losses,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told the Star Tribune after the Yankees loss. “The big thing right now, they (the players) are getting after the game. Hopefully we’ll continue that and we won’t lose 100 games if we can play like that against the rest of the league.”
The team avoided 100 losses with a 1-0 walk-off win to end the season. Reusse recalled the walk-off win, but not fondly.
The Twins “celebrated openly when avoiding 100 losses on the last day at the Target Field they had spent the summer polluting,” he writes.
-Twins starter Carl Pavano scattered five hits over nine innings to earn the walk-off win. Although he was only 9-13 with a 4.30 ERA in 2011, it was his second straight year of giving the Twins more than 200 innings on the mound.
-The Twins struggled within the division, too. They were 4-14 against the Detroit Tigers, who won the division by 15 games.
-Twins general manager Bill Smith was fired after the 2011 season, blamed for trading catching prospect Wilson Ramos for flash-in-the-pan closer Matt Capps, trading infielder J.J. Hardy for little in return and for bringing Tsuyoshi Nishioka to the Twins. Reusse made all those observations in a column that ran Sept. 29, 2011.
-The Twins attracted more than 3 million fans to Target Field in 2010. But the honeymoon didn’t stop there because they drew 3 million in 2011 as well.
Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com, Star Tribune