But when catcher Drew Butera has to come in and pitch the eighth inning in an effort to spare a gassed bullpen, it’s hard to ignore how the Twins got to that point. It was because of another poor start from veteran Jason Marquis, who has put his future in the rotation in question.
Marquis has lost his past four starts, with Sunday’s easily being his roughest yet. He failed to make it through two innings, giving up eight runs on eight hits and a walk. He gave up a 455foot home run to Brewers leadoff hitter Corey Hart and then gave up the first of Jonathan Lucroy’s two home runs. The Brewers catcher later hit a grand slam and finished with seven RBI. “If I was able to feel what I was doing wrong, I would be able to make the adjustment a little better, so it is what it is,” Marquis said. “I’m obviously not going to stop working to get better. I’m just not doing my job and putting this team in a hole every time I step on the field.”
Marquis fell to 2-4 with a whopping 8.47 ERA. The 33-year-old righthander missed his first two starts of the season to spend time with his daughter after she was seriously injured in a bicycle accident.
But in 35 innings, he has given up the most earned runs (32), the most home runs (nine) and the second-most hits (52) on the staff.
He forced manager Ron Gardenhire — who began this eight-game road trip concerned about the workload his relief pitchers had been taking on — to open the bullpen door once again.
Anthony Swarzak gave up two runs over 2 innings. Alex Burnett gave up a run over two innings.
Jeff Gray began the day with a 2.00 ERA but ended it with a 4.50 ERA after being tagged for five runs, including Lucroy’s slam.
The Twins bullpen began Sunday with a 3.24 ERA, and with a 1.47 ERA during the road trip.
Twins starters haven’t been asked to pile up complete games, just to get the ball to the sixth or seventh inning. The callups of Scott Diamond and P.J.
Walters have been chicken soup for the Twins’ soul, because those two young starters are getting two or three times through opposing batting orders.
Marquis said that it’s not just his usually reliable sinker that is giving him problems. All his pitches sent the Twins on a path to an embarrassing loss, abruptly ending their fourgame winning streak.
“I can’t get it right right now,” said Marquis, who gave up three home runs in one inning to Cleveland in his previous start Tuesday. “That’s what it is. I’m going to sit here and make excuses. I’ve just got to go out there and do a better job and figure it out.”
Marquis might give the Twins no choice other than to alter the rotation.
Gardenhire dropped hints before Sunday’s game that Marquis’ start was a big one. Relievers Swarzak, Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano are candidates to return to starting if the Twins decide to remove Marquis. Liam Hendriks has put up solid numbers at Class AAA Rochester since being sent down earlier this month.
The Twins have shown this year that they are not afraid to give someone else a chance. Another change might be coming.
“We’ve got to see where we are at,” Gardenhire said. “We’ll regroup here, have a day off (Monday) and then we’ll start looking at what we need to do come Tuesday.”