The Ghost of Brad Radke Haunts the Twins
It has been a long week in the life of a Minnesota Twins fan. They havenâ€™t won a game since May 13, going 0-9 since then. Vance Worley, their Opening Day starter is in AAA. Mike Pelfrey has pitched a grand total of six innings in his last two starts (although one was due to a rain delay â€“ whatevski). They havenâ€™t had a starter go more than six innings since May 14. And, to add insult to injury, Francisco Liriano is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA for the Pirates.
FRANCISCO FREAKING LIRIANO.
Why is this happening to the Twins? Well, regression to the mean is a dirty , unforgiving mistress, and the Twins had several players (hereâ€™s to looking at you, Kevin Correia) that were destined to crash back to reality eventually. But, even more importantly, itâ€™s the ghost of Brad Radke.
Haunted Target Field
Now, donâ€™t get me wrong â€“ I love Brad Radke. Dude pitched in the 2006 playoffs with his arm attached by some thread and spit. But, for some reason, he could not pitch during the first inning. His career first-inning ERA was 5.05. His ERA for innings two through five didnâ€™t exceed 3.86. Apparently he has passed his first inning ineptitudes onto this new batch of Twinkies seven years after his retirement.
When I say the Twins are struggling in the first inning this year, that seems like a bit of an injustice. â€œBadâ€ would be an ERA around 6.00. Horrible would be around 8.00. The Twins, however, supercede all logical bounds of incompetency in the first inning.
On the season, the Twins have pitched 44 first innings. They have allowed 47 earned runs. Thatâ€™s an ERA of 9.61 OH MY GOODNESS MAKE IT STOP! In the first inning, opponents are hitting .391/.420/.641 for a disgusting 1.060 OPS. Please donâ€™t let your kids see those stats.
As it stands now, the Twins are 28th in the league in ERA. If you were to exclude the first inning from the calculation of the Twinsâ€™ staff ERA, it would be 3.96. This would sit 16th in the league. So, weâ€™re clearly not talking about an elite staff regardless, but thatâ€™s a sizeable difference considering itâ€™s only one inning.
The Twins have to find a way to reverse this. I donâ€™t care if it involves new warm-up music, a pre-game meal that doesnâ€™t include buffalo wings and coffee, on-field puppies or magic beans that make all opposing hitters Lew Ford. Something has to happen to the staffâ€™s first inning woes, and soon, if the Twins want to advance past the misery of the last two years.