* The Twins are smoking hot. As horribly as everything went in April and May, June has been a charmed month. The starting pitching has been absolutely phenomenal (the team has allowed zero or one run in five of its past seven), and the offense -- even with disappointing initial returns from Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Joe Mauer -- has been productive, thanks largely to heightened contributions from role players.
The Twins have won seven straight and 14 out of their last 16, yet they still are tied with Kansas City for the fewest wins in the American League. That should tell you something about how brutal those first two months were.
As I said a week ago, a steep uphill climb remains, and the schedule will grow tougher in the coming weeks. But the Twins have at least put themselves in a position where a run at contention seems feasible, and for that fans must be very grateful.
* Mauer returned to the Twins this weekend, and while it was nice to see him play all three games and push Butera/Rivera out of the lineup twice, I'm not going to feel fully confident in him until he stops hitting the ball on the ground constantly.
The underlying issue in Mauer's dreadful start to the season (.235/.289/.265 with one extra-base hit in 38 plate appearances) was a sky-high GB rate. He grounded out multiple times in all three games over the weekend, and his only hit was a bouncer up the middle in his first at-bat on Friday.
Presently, 70 percent of balls put in play by the catcher this year have been grounders. Derek Jeter's 65 percent rate leads all qualifying players.
* The Twins haven't hit for much power this year and that runs through the entire organization. We're approaching the season's halfway point and Trevor Plouffe leads the system in home runs, with 11. Yes, Trevor Plouffe.