The Twins' 6-5 victory over the Mariners yesterday was not the prettiest you will ever see. But, in squeezing past the American League's worst team and salvaging a victory in what appeared to be a lost series, the Twins showed signs of resiliency and resolve that have made them an upstart playoff contender this year.
The Twins struggled to separate themselves early in the game, and with the score tied at three in the seventh inning, Raul Ibanez ripped a homer to right field that could have been a dagger in the hearts of this inexperienced squad. Ibanez has been a nightmare for the Twins this year, and it would have been totally fitting for his blast to bury the Twins, completing a series sweep and pushing the Twins into a five-game losing streak.
Yet, the Twins battled back, scoring three times in the top of the eighth inning to take back the lead. And when the Mariners came back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning and sent the tying run home on a two-out Miguel Cairo single, Denard Span delivered a perfect throw from center field to gun down Tug Hulett at the plate and end the inning, preserving a one-run lead.
Span's throw continued a trend of terrific outfield defense, and his two-run double in the fourth delivered a trend of key hits that have helped the Twins succeed in the manner they have. Evan Longoria's success in Tampa Bay will prevent him from being a serious Rookie of the Year contender, but the impact that Span has had on the Twins this year cannot be understated, and yesterday's game provided another shining example of this.
Many had left Span for dead after his five underwhelming seasons in the minors, but he is playing like a man on the mission. He seems determined to prove his critics wrong, and for that he deserves all sorts of credit. Meanwhile, the Twins as a whole are set on proving all the national doubters wrong by remaining right at the top of this AL Central race. After battling back to defeat the Mariners while the White Sox were drubbed by the Orioles yesterday, the Twins are now back within a game of first place.
The Twins' series in Seattle was not an impressive one, that much is for sure. Without a doubt, they need to play a lot better in Oakland. But considering how many times they've shown the ability to bounce back from adversity all season long, I don't think it's a stretch to believe they can.