MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins are just 22 games into the 2021 season, and it already appears to be at a crossroads.
The Twins’ bullpen had another collapse Tuesday night in a 7-4 loss at Cleveland. They’re now 7-15 on the season, which is the worst record in Major League Baseball. Since a 5-2 start, the Twins have lost 13 of their last 15 games.
It led to Rocco Baldelli holding a team meeting after the loss, before he met with reporters after the game.
"The point of the conversation was I think our guys have played hard and it’s been about as tough of a stretch as I’ve ever seen in professional baseball. The way we’ve played these games, we’ve had our guts ripped out over and over again, and our guys have continued to give it everything they have," Baldelli said. "We haven’t played particularly well, it’s no secret. But I can’t be upset with the effort that we’re getting from our guys or anything like that. The guys have been busting their a** and the way we’ve been losing games, just the feel out there on the field is very tough to handle. It’s very tough on a group."
Baldelli said after there is no right or wrong time to address a team during a losing streak. It’s a matter of reading the room, and a team with high expectations at the start of the season, coming off two straight division titles, is in danger of the season spiraling out of control early.
"This was one that there wasn’t much debate in my mind about if I was going to talk to the guys or what I was going to say. It’s not just the wins and losses, it’s the way these games have played out that has made them especially tough to stomach," Baldelli said. "When that happens, that’s when I think the team needs to be brought together and discuss things as a group. That’s what we did."
The Indians got to Kenta Maeda, who fell to 1-2 on the season, with five earned runs on three home runs and six extra base hits. Then, the bullpen fell apart late.
Two nights ago, the Twins lost after Alex Colome gave up a walk-off homer. It prompted Baldelli to tell reporters before Tuesday’s game Colome would be used in lower leverage situations.
Except that didn’t happen. Baldelli went to Colome for the eighth inning in a one-run game, and he walked three and hit a batter as the Indians stretched their lead to 6-4. Jorge Alcala also hit a batter that allowed a run to score, and the Twins lost 7-4.
"I think we’re going to see Alex continue to pitch in the types of situations like we saw today. We have to build him back up. I think that’s a big part of the answer here, and that’s how you build that confidence," Baldelli said.
The Twins finish the series at Cleveland Wednesday afternoon, desperately needing a win to end a four-game losing streak and feel good about themselves again.