Greetings from sunny but chilly Target Field! The word of the morning and early afternoon at Target Field was patience. Twins hitters weren’t necessarily asking for it from fans, but rather preaching it for themselves as they navigate the choppy waters of a franchise-worst 0-6 start.
Trevor Plouffe cited small sample sizes and that he was told by members of the 1991 team — Dan Gladden was named specifically — of the 2-9 start that season. That team didn’t reach .500 for good until early June (25-25), but still finished 95-67 and obviously won the World Series.
Second baseman Brian Dozier took it a step further, insisting he spoke for every player in the clubhouse when he said nobody is fretting the slow start.
And in fact one need not look any further back than last year, when a Twins team with drastically lower expectations started out 1-6 before getting things going in May.
And for a point of reference, and for the fun of it, here are the longest losing streaks from last year’s playoff teams:
Blue Jays – five games, the last on May 17
Royals – four games, the last on Sept. 7
Yankees – six games, the last on May 24
Rangers – six games, the last on June 26
Astros – seven games, the last on June 10
Ultimately, it’s a game of ebbs and flows. How many people were talking about the Royals going 11-17 in September when they won the World Series? If you’re on the ledge, take a deep breath.
Miguel Sano’s ejection in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game was something the hulking slugger spoke at length on in Monday’s pre-game availability. Sano noted that he felt the strike zone had been called poorly earlier in the game in plate appearances of Eduardo Nunez and Eddie Rosario, and he felt as though those same calls weren’t going against the Royals. Sano said he understood the team’s need for him to be in the lineup, but it was also clear that he had reached a boiling point.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said Monday that John Hirschbeck had come over to the dugout and let the team know he had missed a call with Rosario earlier in the game, as well.
There were no surprises in the home opening lineup, as Molitor went with basically the generally accepted starting lineup in spite of some offensive issues so far this year. So far this season, the Twins are tied for last in the American League in runs scored with the Angels (12), and are striking out at a higher percentage than any of their AL contemporaries (31.9 percent). The club’s wOBA (weighted on-base average) paints a more optimistic picture, with the club ranking 12th with a .282 mark. That number takes all the team’s offensive accomplishments into account, and turns them into a tidy number that is to be read in the same context as on-base percentage. But while it’s not dead last, it’s still not good.
Gibson – SP
Gibson’s first start of the year was a rocky one, as he walked five batters and struck out just three in a loss to the Orioles in Game No. 2 of the season. Gibson started slow last year as well — zero strikeouts, five walks against the Tigers in his first start — but turned things around quickly with 6.2 shutout innings against the Royals in his second start. He’ll look to do the same on Monday.
One player off to a bit of a slow start in center fielder Byron Buxton. He spoke at length about the team, and himself not getting too down when things aren’t going well.