On June 1st, 2011 Twins fans were wondering when the fire sale would begin. The team had dropped to 16 1/2 games behind the first place Cleveland Indians and were 20 games under .500. Twins beat writers, bloggers and fans were starting to talk about who would be traded before the deadline and looking towards next season. The Twins were not hitting, pitching or fielding at all. They were dreadful to watch.
Turn the page to June 22nd, 2011 and the Twins now find themselves only 6 1/2 games out of first place and on a 8 game winning streak. The Twins have been on a tear winning 15 out of their last 17 games and making up 10 games in less than a month. Many fans felt if they could climb to within 5-6 games out by August they would still have a slight chance at winning the division. They very well could do it by the end of tonight’s game against the World Champion San Fransisco Giants who they beat 9-2 last night. The Twins scored 8 runs in the first inning with 8 straight hits to start the inning. The 8 straight hits tied a Major League record and they were the first American League team to do so since the Yankees on September 25th, 1990.
The turnaround has been amazing. Most of the credit has to be thrown to the starting pitching staff. In the past 30 days, the Twins have the best starters ERA (2.62) in all of baseball. In the past 14 days, the starters have been even better with a combined ERA of 1.82. In the month of April the Twins starting pitchers had an ERA of 4.97 and 4.17 in May. Twins starting pitchers are also going deeper into games and not wearing out the bullpen. Since June 2nd, Twins starters have pitched 119.1 innings and 8 times they have pitched 8 plus innings.
Twins OF Ben Revere has also had a major impact on the Twins. This off-season, the Twins traded JJ Hardy away, let Orlando Hudson leave and signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka in an effort to gain more speed in the lineup. With injuries to the Twins outfield, Revere has played regularly and made the most of it and provided the Twins with the speed they were looking for on the base-paths. He is hitting .269 overall with a .303 OBP this season. In the past 30 days, Revere is hitting .282 with a .320 OBP. Even once the outfield is all healthy, Revere will be here to stay as it will be impossible for Gardy t
Super utility man Michael Cuddyer has found his swing as well. Through the first month of the season, Cuddyer was hitting only .226 with 4 RBI. In the past 14 days he has been on fire hitting .395 with a .467 OBP, 3 HR and 11 RBI. Cuddyer is a free agent at the end of this season and the Twins have already been contacted by the Phillies inquiring about him. One would think they will wait and see where they are standings wise around the deadline. Even if they fall back out of the race, I do not see the Twins trading Cuddyer as he has become a staple in the community and is now one of the faces of this franchise.
There have been many other reasons for this recent surge. Alexi Casilla is playing great defense and is one of the best hitters in baseball over the past 30 days (hitting .351 with a .413 OBP and .515 SLG%), Delmon Young is showing signs of life (hitting .395 last 10 games and .329 in June) and they are getting production from other AAA players who have come up to fill some holes. Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and Tsuyoshi Nishioka returned this week and Joe Nathan, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Denard Span are all expected to be back within the next week or two.
At the beginning of the month talking about possibly being in first place by the All Star break would have been laughed at. Now the Twins are playing amazing baseball and are within striking distance. They are getting healthy and have a lot of home games and games in the division left this season. Traditionally, they are beasts in interleague play. All signs are starting to show that this comeback has a great chance of happening and would be historic. Twins fans who witnessed the 2006 and 2009 comeback thought we would never see anything like that again. Well, it looks like we were wrong because…….it’s happening.
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