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Before we start, a quick reminder:
World Series Contest
I am going to be holding some contests here and on Twitter and Facebook over the next week or two thanks to A&E who has now come out with “A&E Minnesota Twins Vintage World Series Films DVD.” It includes both the 1987 and 1991 teams! The ’87 team beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games. The ’91 World Series was the first that had two worst-to-first teams as the Twins and the Atlanta Braves played one of the greatest seven-game series ever, including Jack Morris’s amazing Game 7. So be sure to look here and other places for some contests for a free copy.
On Saturday afternoon, the Twins scored five first inning runs and Scott Baker threw a complete game as the Twins won for the eighth time in ten games. First, it was a four-game sweep in Kansas City. Then they won two out of three in Cleveland against the division leaders. With the win on Saturday, the Twins have won two of the first three games of this four-game series against arguably the best team in the American League, the Texas Rangers.
After playing horrible baseball through the first 54 games of the season, the Twins have found a way to play great baseball over the past ten games. They have managed to do that without Joe Mauer, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and in recent days without Denard Span or Justin Morneau.
Do I believe that this type of success is sustainable? With the current roster? No. But as those aforementioned players come back, along with Glen Perkins, the team is certainly moving back in the right direction.
So, how did a team that was playing so poorly suddenly run off eight wins in ten games? I went to the numbers and it has been a combination of good starting pitching, great bullpen work and very strong offense. Here are some of the numbers for you to consider:
- Over those ten games, the starting pitchers have thrown 65.1 innings. They have given up 70 hits, walked 11 and struck out 41. That’s a 2.62 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. They have given up eight unearned runs, four of them came on Friday night in Brian Duensing’s seven run second inning. Scott Baker and Carl Pavano each threw a complete game during that time frame and seven innings in their other start. Brian Duensing threw eight shutout innings in one of his starts. Anthony Swarzak picked up his first career win to start this run. Francisco Liriano returned with five shutout innings.
- As good as the starters have been, the bullpen has been even better. There may be a direct correlation there as well. Starters go longer and pitch better, maybe it’s easier to come in and perform. But they have come through in some tough situations. In those ten games, the bullpen has a 1.09 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 24.2 innings. They have given up just 16 hits, walked eight and struckout 12.
- Ben Revere made the comment in his Fox interview following Saturday’s win that he likes being a leader and getting the team going. I assume that he meant that he enjoys being a leadoff hitter and setting the table for the game. Revere has been a catalyst, but he has not been the only offensive performer over the past ten days. Here’s proof that a lot of people are contributing:
- Revere has gone 13-44 (.295) with two walks and a double. He has scored seven runs, driven in four runs. He also has three stolen bases.
- Alexi Casilla has gone 14-42 (.333) with four walks and three doubles. He has four stolen bases, has scored six runs and driven in four runs.
- Michael Cuddyer has gone 12-38 (.316) with four walks. He has four doubles, three home runs, six runs scored and ten RBI.
- Delmon Young has gone 14-40 (.350) with a walk, three doubles and a long home run. He has scored seven runs and driven in six.
- Matt Tolbert has gone 10-33 (.303) with a walk, three doubles, five runs scored and six RBI.
- Luke Hughes has gone 9-25 (.360) with a walk, three doubles and seven runs scored.
- Drew Butera has gone 8-20 (.400) with a walk, three doubles, six runs scored and six RBI.
- Before his concussion, Denard Span went 4-14 (.286) with a double, a triple, a run scored and three RBI.
- Jason Repko was 3-12 (.250) with a double, a run and three RBI. He played a huge role in one of the wins in Kansas City.
- Before missing a couple of days lately, Justin Morneau had gone 2-24 (.083). Danny Valencia has gone 5-35 (.143) with four walks, a double, two runs and two RBI. Rene Rivera has gone 3-16 (.188) with a walk, a double, two runs and an RBI.
So again, in order to go on a nice ten-game run like the Twins have, it takes a whole team. The Twins have been able to get strong starting pitching and bullpen work. They have received offensive contributions from some unlikely sources, some young players and some of the veterans that much had been expected earlier. Ben Revere has been a catalyst, and Michael Cuddyer has been an incredible run producer.
And, as a fan, the best thing is that the Twins have been fun to watch again. Not just because of the wins, but primarily because the brand of baseball is just much better.
Of course, as we are now down to 98 more games, the Twins will need to play very well for the next nine or ten ten-game stretches. Are they capable? As those injured players return, how will they impact the Twins team? Are you surprised to see any of the above numbers? Feel free to comment here.