Remember how the beginning of last season felt? The Twins went 1-5 in their first two series, the beginning of a poor April followed by a poor May. They lacked energy out of the gate and a lot of the decisions made in spring training looked bad pretty quickly. This year? The bats are on fire and the pitching has been quite good so far. Even a questionable decision looks good so far.
Ramon Ortiz, one of two new pitchers in the Twins rotation, hasn't been very good since 2002, as we've been adamant on this site, but he was pretty good last night. In seven innings of pitching, Ortiz gave up four hits and two runs while walking one and striking out four. It was an impressive debut, though it came against a fairly weak Baltimore lineup. He'll be tested by vastly superior lineups soon enough, but it was a nice start and Ortiz certainly looked better than he did last year and appeared excited to be a Twin. Not to mention, he's apparently learned a change-up from Johan Santana.
As for the hitting, the Twins looked a little more like they did Monday night, with a good deal of hard-hit balls off Orioles starter Jaret Wright and reliever Jeremy Guthrie. In addition to the hits, the Twins walked plenty, getting six total and five from Wright alone. The took advantage of Wright's bad control, hittable pitches, and the Orioles defense, which made three errors.
Most notably, Luis Castillo, Joe Mauer, and Michael Cuddyer had impressive games. Castillo continues to hit well, going 7-for-14 so far and showing that his hot bat in Spring Training wasn't a mirage. Mauer, meanwhile, is hitting .455 so far and has shown great patience and that same great swing from the on-set. Anyone care to take back their predictions that he wouldn't win another batting title? (Ok, it's a little early, but Mauer looks pretty great).
As for Cuddyer, we would bring back the K-ddyer meter after his first two starts if he didn't redeem himself last night by not only avoiding a strikeout, but by also going 3-for-3 with two RBI. In other words, let's not panic and let's just assume that Cuddyer will be fine. If in a month, he's struck out 30 or 40 times already, there will be no question about bringing the K-ddyer back.
Overall, the Twins have given the fans a reason to be optimistic about the season with a nice sweep of the O's. This weekend, however, will pose more of a challenge, as the Twins head to Chicago to take on the White Sox. Who is all looking forward to Sidney Ponson's great first start on Saturday? I know I am.