Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Problems Highlight Twins Opener

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins kicked off their home schedule by hosting their first game of the season. Enjoying a sellout for the first time in what seemed to be forever, there's no denying that problems were the story of the day both for the product on the field and off of it. Having experienced every opening day since the opening of Target Field, few felt more deflating than what took place against the Kansas City Royals.

Off of the field, the Twins made the last week or so about the incredible food additions to Target Field. Touting new delicacies including a bacon filled cheeseburger, Oreo churro bites, and bacon tator tot hot dish, there were no shortage of promotion. However, it seemed like the promotion of said foods were the only practices taken in the week leading up to the game, and that there were no execution plans whatsoever. Long lines, broken registers, and overwhelmed employees turned what could have been an exciting new food experience into certain frustration. Looking back at all previous opening day games, including the first season at Target Field, I have never experienced a less prepared execution with regards to concessions or traffic flow. Although giving out hoodies to every fan was a nice touch, the concourses became stagnant and created more problems than could have been imagined. Prior to sitting down, the fan experience had already been diminished.

Then the Twins took the field.

Sure, Torii Hunter's introduction with "I'm Coming Home" playing in the background was chill inducing, but things were all downhill from there. Though Trevor May started off well, and even worked around a Kendrys Morales solo blast, doom was sure to come for the Twins. Prior to exiting the game, May had given up the lead and worked himself into trouble. Giving way to the bullpen, the floodgates were about to break open.

Brian Duensing and J.R. Graham both hit batters, while the latter walked runners around the bases giving up free runs. Poor outfield play by both corner outfielders only compounded the problem. Hunter struggled to reel in what looked to be a routine fly ball, and then made things worse by making an errant throw back to the infield. Oswaldo Arcia crashed into the left centerfield wall in pursuit of a well hit ball, but came up markedly short on making a play. By the end of the ninth inning, fans were asking the Royals for mercy on what looked to be a high school level Twins defense.

As many problems as the bullpen had yesterday, they were only magnified by how poor the defense looked behind them. While walking batters around the bases, the Twins turned routine outs into difficult plays, and the game as a whole became on of the sloppiest I can recall seeing in quite some time.

There's no doubt that now at 1-6 the Twins have some serious issues. The bigger question becomes how willing they are to fix them. The answers for the bullpen issues are not at the major league level, while offense and defense may need to be cured from the farm as well. No matter what Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor decide, this club is going nowhere fast in its current form, and that's an issue. The Twins home opener was supposed to be an exciting start to baseball in Minneapolis, and the problems made it anything but.

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