We are back and alive! Nearly two months into this season, the Twins are exceeding all expectations that fans and reporters had for this team. The AL Central was declared the toughest division in baseball before the season and the Twins were predicted to be in deep trouble, especially with the 80-game suspension of starter Ervin Santana.
Apparently, the Twins didn’t get the memo as they are firing on all cylinders. After digging themselves into a deep hole in early April, the Twins climbed all the way to the top of the division after Memorial Day for the first time since 2010. The pitching has been great, the offense has been productive, and the base running has been spectacular. It feels like something special is happening!
The Twins’ starting pitching is vastly improved from years past. The starters are going longer and our bullpen is holding leads. The starting pitchers have 20 wins of 28, with Ricky Nolasco in the lead with 5. Each pitcher in the rotation is getting sharper as the season goes on and pitching into the 7th more often. Once reliever Casey Fien was placed on the DL in late April, Blaine Boyer has been an outstanding replacement. In 23 games this year, Boyer has an 2.28 ERA with 10 strike outs and 9 holds. Since Fien’s return is imminent, it will be hard for him to regain his set-up role during Boyer’s hot streak. Closer Glen Perkins has been perfect, closing out 18 games with an 1.19 ERA and 21 strikeouts while only surrendering 2 walks. This pitching staff is rocking right now.
The Twins’ 16-6 May record is one of the best in the League right now and their offense is a big factor in that. Before the May 27 game, the Twins scored first in nine straight games, winning most of them. As a team, the Twins are hitting .257 with 57 home runs and have scored 212 runs. Torii Hunter is contributing more at the plate than many of us imagined. He has 7 dingers with 29 RBIs, resulting in a .280 batting average. Others, like Joe Mauer and Eduardo Nunez, have been great at the plate. Mauer is batting .276 with 27 RBIs, while Nunez is currently batting .387 in 12 games.
Earlier this month, the Twins called up prospect Eddie Rosario from Triple-A. In his first MLB at-bat on May 6, Rosario smacked the first pitch that he saw over the fence for his first home run. Rosario since then has 14 hits with 10 RBIs. The Twins offense is surging without Kennys Vargas, who was sent down last week, and with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano destroying the Double-A pitchers. Don’t be surprised if all three players join the Twins in the coming months.
A couple of times this year a Twin has scored from first base on a single. It seems like the base coaches are more riskier than the former ones. Third base coach Gene Glynn has a good eye for when to send the runner or not and the players are being more aggressive at running.
It definitely seems that Manager Paul Molitor has his team on a serious roll. Let’s see how far they go with this 28-18 start, their best start in 5 years! Once free agent signee Santana returns in July, the Club could potentially be even better. Just think: if the Twins play just .500 baseball from now on, they will finish with a 86-76 record.
Written by: Michael L. Sack