Baseball is an unforgiving sport. And vindictive as hell. Look at the catatonic Twins fans staggering through their holiday weekend after so many Cleveland catastrophes.
They’re either crawling out of another liquor bottle at the cabin or into a fetal position in their therapist’s office.
Relentlessly blowing late leads to a division rival will do that. Bullpen meltdowns are the connective tissue that binds seam heads and casual observers in common rage over their team’s cruel and sudden demise.
You do not play or watch 162 games without enduring some painful defeats along the way. But there is something sinister about investing 3-plus hours of emotion into a pending victory only to be daggered at the end.
So many scapegoats, so little patience.
It’s July now. Way too late for the hand-me-down bullpen Minnesota’s front office stitched together to try to keep leads all warm and cozy. But never too early to seek desperately needed help before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
I am certain Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are cascading relevant information and synergizing data to foster a cross-functional solution to their high-leverage problem. That’s what thought leaders and C-suite executives do.
Anytime now, fellas.
The Twins entered Friday’s home game against lowly Baltimore clinging to a 1-game lead over the surging Guardians in the American League Central. They have not been out of first place since April 23, having put 5 ½ games between themselves and Cleveland within a month.
That cushion and confidence were left in an ash heap at Progressive Field Thursday after the Twins were walked off for the second consecutive day. It was their fifth loss to the Guardians in the last 10 days. Five games in which Minnesota led in the eighth inning or later before stepping on a rake.
It was so traumatizing that laissez-faire manager Rocco Baldelli delivered a rare postgame pep talk bemoaning Minnesota’s miserable fortune. All good. But it will take heavy lifting from the brass more than timely eulogies for this team to have any postseason impact.
Anyone who thinks the Twins can stagger into October and tiptoe through late innings at Houston or the Bronx is munching the same edibles as the Republican squares in the Minnesota legislature who unwittingly legalized cannabis and now want a do-over.
Good luck with all that.
Psychologically, bullpen collapses feel like losing streaks. They are a cancer that can metastasize in the clubhouse and the fanbase. Fear takes over as sphincters tighten and here-we-go-again dread becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All Minnesota sports fans reflexively nod.
It was all so predictable. The front office fortified the starting rotation during the offseason but shrugged at bullpen brushfires that are now raging out of control.
To be sure, rookie right-hander Jhoan Duran has been a revelation, firing 100-mph bullets past big-league hitters in big moments like he was shooting skeet. Without Duran on the back end, the Twins arguably would be staring up at .500.
By the way, has anyone seen the latest ransom demand for missing setup man, Tyler Duffey?
Hours before Opening Day, the Twins traded all-star lefty Taylor Rogers to San Diego for starter Chris Paddack, relief goat du jour Emilio Pagan and minor-league pitcher Brayan Medina.
The deal may pay off some day because of greater team control over younger prospects. However, today’s urgency makes jettisoning Rogers a shortsighted move that reeks of Falvey et al overplaying their hand.
Pagan should wear a fire-retardant coat next time he takes the mound. He was responsible for four of the blown leads against Cleveland. Not to be outdone, veteran Tyler Thornburg pitched the eighth and ninth innings Thursday and sprayed more kerosene.
He walked three and hit another batter, yielding four runs, including Andres Gimenez’s two-run blast, to set Twins Twitter aflame.
Some enterprising screamers and scribes even exhumed clippings and box scores of Ron Davis’ infamous meltdowns during his 1980s tenure as Minnesota’s closer.
History is a great teacher, but it is a miserable drinking partner.
Falvine and Co. hold the keys to the salvage truck that can pull the Twins out of the ditch. The season is half over. Identities are baked in. The current crisis demands action and change, and not simply for the sake of it.
Erstwhile pitching coach Wes Johnson already has grabbed one life vest on his way to the Bayou to run Louisiana State’s powerhouse baseball program.
High time to rescue the bullpen before it drags everyone to the bottom.
More from Brian Murphy: