Suddenly the Twins are winning. If you stopped watching in disgust four days ago, after they dropped to a disgusting 10-26, you have missed some surprisingly competent and exciting baseball. Four road games against two teams that reached their leagues’ respective Championship Series last year, and the Twins have come away with four wins.
Let’s not get our hopes up too far, but if the Twins win today and the Padres lose, Minnesota will no longer have the worst record in the Major Leagues! In theory, with another good week or so, the Twins could pass up Colorado, Milwaukee, and the Cubs as well.
The best part of the streak is that every facet of the Twins’ game seems to be working. Aside from Nick Blackburn‘s injury-affected collapse on Wednesday, there have been three decent starts in a row. P.J. Walters held the Tigers to three solo homers in his start Thursday. Scott Diamond failed to extend his scoreless streak, but he went five and a third and garnered the win 0n Saturday. And Carl Pavano had arguably his best start of the season Saturday, allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six batters. Nobody is stupid enough to expect dominance from the Twins’ rotation at this point, but if they could continue to provide this level of competence on a semi-regular basis, the Twins might not be an awful team the rest of 2012.
Even when the starting pitching hasn’t come through, the bullpen has in a big way. Over the four game streak, the Twins’ relievers own a combined 1.47 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 18.1 innings. Yesterday Jared Burton surrendered a two run homer to Aramis Ramirez, but we can forgive him for that, since Burton has generally been great this season. Matt Capps has also come through, converting both save opportunities during the streak without incident.
Perhaps most surprising has been the hitting. Four days ago, Trevor Plouffe was hitting .133. Okay, his average is still just .147, but he has three homers since then! Notoriously weak hitter Drew Butera is challenging for the small-sample-size-batting-title with six hits in 10 at bats. And rookie Brian Dozier has been as good as promised. He smacked a three run homer on Wednesday and followed with a two hit game Thursday.
What does this streak mean? Hard to tell at this point. For one thing, there is a high probability it will end today when the Twins run into Zack Greinke. If Jason Marquis can outpitch Greinke today, we might have proof the Twins are really onto something good. But even if they lose, the streak at least provided a break from the awfulness that has characterized the season so far. There is absolutely no chance that this winning streak will ignite a playoff run, so let’s not get carried away. What we can hope for is that the Twins right the ship and work toward a 75 to 80 win season, one in which several young players continue to step up and show us that they can be assets for the future.