Sports can be wonderfully unpredictable, and baseball is a prime example. One of the things that keeps fans coming back to the ballpark is the idea that you never know what you are going to see on a given day.
This weekend, however, represented the absolute opposite for the Twins and their fans. The Twins went into the four games over three days — including Saturday’s doubleheader — with a two-game lead in the AL Central over Cleveland.
They also went into the series, due to circumstances of injury and the compressed schedule from playing two games in one day, with a four-game starting pitching rotation that looked every bit as hopeless going in as the starters they’ve run out in recent 90-loss seasons. In order, they were:
Nik Turley, a 27-year-old who had made his MLB debut the previous week, allowing four runs in four innings. Turley was pitching in an independent league just last year. Two good months split over Class AA and Class AAA earned him a promotion.
Adam Wilk, who gave up three home runs with the Mets in his only appearance of the season before getting dumped and picked up by the pitching-needy Twinws. He has a 5.48 ERA in the minors this year.
Adalberto Mejia, who started the year in the Twins rotation, then spent a month in the minors. He returned toward the end of May and turned in four decent starts (nine runs over 23 innings) before getting shelled in his most recent outing before the weekend.
Kyle Gibson, who went 0-4 with an ERA of more than 8 before being sent to the minors. He had been better since his return, but the Twins also had given him absurd run support.
The only real optimism one could muster going in was that the first three starters are lefties, and Cleveland has struggled vs. southpaws this season. But overall, on paper, it looked as if the Twins were headed for a butt-kicking.
Turley and Wilk gave up 14 combined runs in eight innings. Mejia and Gibson gave better efforts (10 ⅔ innings combined and five runs allowed), but added up the starters had an ERA of 9.16 in the series while working an average of fewer than five innings.
They weren’t the only culprits in series during which the Twins were outscored 28-8, but they were among the main — and most predictable — ones in turning a two-game division lead into a two-game deficit following the four-game sweep.
Those who showed up at Target Field on Sunday were treated, at least, to a couple of those “you never know what you’re going to see” moments to end the 5-2 loss: the last two Twins outs came on a called strike three that technology indicated was waaaaay outside and a play at first base that seemed a strong bet to be changed from out to safe — but wasn’t — upon further review.
At least it gave Twins fans something fresh to gripe about other than the pitching.