On Sunday, following the Twins' comeback win against Chicago, several players expressed the hope that the win would be a turning point for the season. On Tuesday, as the Twins dropped their second straight to the basement-dwelling Indians, we saw what could be a turning point for Minnesota -- but very much in the wrong direction.
The Twins trailed 3-1 going into the seventh, but strung together four consecutive base hits to tie the game as catcher Joe Mauer strode to the plate with runners on first and second and one out. With Justin Morneau out indefinitely with a concussion, it was a perfect chance for Mauer to make his mark as the team's lone star. These were the moments the Twins had paid $23 million per year for; these were the moments the Twins needed their catcher to step up.
Instead, Mauer bunted.
Yes, the infield was back, and a good bunt might have resulted in a hit -- but even if it had, the Twins would barely have been closer to scoring a run. Another batter would be needed to get the go-ahead run in. Mauer, faced with a chance to be a difference-maker, had simply abdicated his responsibility.
Up until Tuesday night, the story of the Twins' season has been one of players just not getting it done. It wasn't that they weren't giving the effort, or didn't have the skills -- they just hadn't played up to their capabilities. Mauer's bunt was something different entirely; their leader has gone from not getting it done, to having no hope of getting it done, to not even attempting to get it done. Simply, it was a capitulation.
It's just another reminder that Mauer is not yet the leader that his paycheck would suggest, and of just how much the Twins miss Morneau in the lineup. It would be unfathomable for Morneau to bunt in that spot. For Mauer, sadly, it didn't seem all that out of character.
Tuesday, as the Twins trailed 4-3 going into the ninth, the stadium video crew played what they refer to as "the Never Surrender video," set to the strains of "The Pretender' by the Foo Fighters. Unfortunately for the Twins, it was too late to swear off surrender; their All-Star catcher had already seen to that.