ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 02: Starting pitcher Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates after throwing a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 2, 2012 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Twins 9-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jered Weaver's no-hitter of the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night was a microcosm of the Twins' futility in 2012.
First of all, let's give credit where it's due--Jered Weaver pitched an absolutely spectacular game on Wednesday. He allowed only two base runners the entire evening. One of those base runners was Chris Parmelee, who reached only after he struck out and the ball got past catcher Chris Iannetta. Weaver dominated the Twins hitters from start to finish. The final out, Alexi Casilla's long fly ball to right field caught by former Twin Torii Hunter, was one of the few hard-hit balls the Twins had throughout the memorable night. Weaver deserves all the accolades he gets for tossing such a gem.
That said, Weaver did pitch a no-hitter against a team that only mustered three measly singles against journeyman Jerome Williams the night before. Yes, that Jerome Williams--he of the 29-30 career record and who had a 1-0 record with the minor league powerhouse Inland Empire 66ers this year.
To say that the Twins have struggled out of the gate in 2012 is kind of like saying the HBO show "Luck" had a slight problem with their horses. Throwing out statistics of how bad the Twins have been this year is a lot like beating those literally dead horses, but I feel that it has to be done:
- The starting pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of well over 7.00. You can point out that the sample size is still relatively small, but we are a month into the season already.
- The Twins have the worst record in baseball and are 1.5 games behind the Kansas City Royals--a team that already has a 12-game losing streak under its belt.
- If you don't count Denard Span reaching second in the 9th inning on Tuesday night via catcher indifference, the Twins won't have a base runner past first base in four days. (The last time they legitimately had a runner in scoring position was Monday, and Thursday is mercifully an off day.) This fact caused me to send out a slightly off-color Tweet last night.
- The Twins have hit only 14 home runs this season while allowing 38. Brian Duensing is the lone Twins pitcher that has yet to allow a dinger, yet half of the 14 batters the Twins have sent to the plate this season have failed to hit one.
I could go on, but it only gets more depressing from there--for instance, I could mention how bare the cupboards are in the minor league system, so there isn't much hope of injecting new blood to turn the team around. Unless the guys currently in the clubhouse pick it up, things aren't going to get better for Minnesota any time soon.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was about as upset as you'll ever see him after the game on Wednesday, and with good reason. It's one thing to hit like you're swinging toothpicks; every team will go through slumps here and there throughout the year. But when the Minnesota Twins
are constantly screwing up the fundamentals, it's a sign that something is--well, fundamentally
wrong. The Twins have always been the team that does the little things right, which earned them the famous "Piranhas" tag from Ozzie Guillen years ago. This year, Minnesota can't seem to get out of their own way when it comes to the small stuff. Baseball is a game of details and the Twins simply don't seem to be paying attention to them.
But baseball is also a game played over a very long season that's full of peaks and valleys. As bad as things are for the Twins right now, it doesn't look like anyone is going to run away with the AL Central any time soon. Miraculously, they're only seven games back. Hopefully Twins fans (and more importantly Twins players) can look back at Jared Weaver's no hitter in a few months and point to it as the smelling salt that finally woke the team up after an awful start. If getting embarrassed by the Angels
these past two games doesn't motivate the Twins to improve, then nothing will.
The 9-0 no-hit loss was sadly the perfect microcosm of the Twins' season so far, but it doesn't have to define the season as a whole just yet.
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