It’s tough to be optimistic right now the way the Twins played the first three games of the season. Very few flashes of good play and too many signs of mediocrity have a tendency to lead to thinking this could be a rebuilding season sooner rather than later.
Yesterday the offense was anemic – again too little too late – and the defense left much to be desired. Willingham looked bad in left field more than once, and Valencia was very slow reacting a couple of different times on plays he probably should have made. My guess is he took his failings at the plate (hit into two DP’s) out on the field and didn’t have his head in the game on defense. Whether it was the cause or just part of the early season rotation plan, Valencia found himself on the bench for the next game.
Today at least Swarzak pitched well giving up only one run in five innings, a home run to Hardy in the first. Unfortunately, Maloney proceeded to get hit hard and gave up two runs in his first inning of work. Brightest spot in pitching today? Second effective appearance in relief by Duensing – both very good. On the offensive side, it took until the eighth inning to get even the first hit, but then back to back doubles by Morneau and Willingham produced the only run of the game for the Twins.
For the series overall, very weak hitting and less than stellar pitching against the team that is likely to end up in last place in the AL east is discouraging. The next stretch of games will be a continued test even though they will at least be home for six game.
My expectations for the season were not all that high to begin with for various reasons, but I did expect one win out of this series. The best news as the season began has been the health of Mauer and Morneau. Too bad only Morneau is hitting the ball well right now. Returning to the cold weather of April in Minneapolis is not exactly a recipe for sudden improvement at the plate either.
The next few weeks may prove to be agonizing for Twins fans with only the hopes of seeing some of the young rising starts perhaps earlier than I and others anticipated. Of course, three games is not much in the context of a 162-game schedule, and a three game sweep in the middle of the season doesn’t feel quite as dire as it does to open the season, but this team is not awe-inspiring yet. A good run of a six-game win streak would change that quickly.