On this blog we try to keep a fairly balanced and level-headed view of the Minnesota Twins. We try not to get too worked up after a loss or too excited after a win. However, I have to say that last night's 14-6 clobbering of the Indians in Cleveland has gotten me downright giddy. Despite the fact that they have been the best team in baseball over the past month and a half and their record ranks fourth in the American League, the Twins have consistently been one of the league's worst teams on the road, even recently when they've been almost literally unbeatable at home. Last night they went into Cleveland to open a three-game series -- in a stadium where they were easily swept early in the season -- and they had their worst pitcher taking the mound against the Indians' ace. There was every reason to think the Twins would snap their seven-game winning streak.
Instead, the Twins' offense, which has generally been flat when away from the Metrodome this year, turned around their road woes and piled on C.C. Sabathia and the Indians' pitching staff for 14 runs on 18 hits, including an eight-run fourth inning. The Revival of Rondell continued as White went 4-for-5 with four RBI. Michael Cuddyer delivered four RBI of his own to go along with three hits. Joe Mauer went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple and a pair of runs batted in. Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with a couple walks and scored four times. The same Twins' offense that could do nothing away from the Metrodome for most of the season was absolutely spectacular, making a big statement in the first match-up of a six-game AL Central road trip.
One guy who did not rebound from his road struggles was Carlos Silva, who got knocked around for six runs (five earned) on 13 hits in just 4 and 2/3 innings. Fortunately, that didn't matter much thanks to the offensive explosion and thanks to the bullpen -- as usual -- keeping runs off the board for the remainder of the game.
The Twins' turnaround has been nothing short of incredible. On June 8th, they were 25-33, eight games below .500. They were in fourth place in the AL Central, trailing the Tigers by 11.5 games, the White Sox by 11 games, and even the Indians by four. Any fan making an attempt to be even slightly realistic or objective had to believe that the Twins were pretty much out of the race, considering they were playing in the same division as the two best teams in the league and had lost seven of their last nine. Instead of laying down, the Twins went ahead and won their next series against the Orioles. Then they swept the Red Sox and the Pirates. Then they won a series in Houston. Then they won 11 straight games, sweeping the Cubs, Dodgers and Brewers in the process. Then the Twins hit a bit of a rough stretch, losing series against the Royals and Rangers. Now the team has rebounded, piecing together another eight-game winning streak.
As a result of all that winning, the Twins are now just three games away from a playoff spot, which would have been unthinkable back in the middle of June. If the Twins and White Sox play even for the next couple games, the Twins will enter Chicago on Monday night with a chance to sweep and move into a tie for second in the division, and potentially for the lead in the Wild Card race.
Who would've thought that two months ago?