The loneliest number.
Our "ace" squares off against their rookie phenom. Taking 2 of 3 from these guys on the road would be something. If they pull it off, that would make the Twins 6 for 6 in series against the AL East (!?).
The Astros had a poor April, winning just nine of the 28 games. May was much kinder as they won 15 of 29 and so far in June they have won two out of four. The Astros being the doormat of the AL, especially to at-best mediocre teams like the Twins, appears to have ended.
People always talk about how offense is what brings in the fans. And historically, that's been true. You can track attendance and offense, and there's a pretty good correlation there. And yes, I know correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but it does not necessarily not mean it, either. Most fans, especially casual fans, like to see runs scored.
But you know, when you follow a team and their pitching staff has been as bad as the Twins' staff has in recent years, it's a lot of fun to see a low-scoring, well-pitched game. And of course, it's a lot more fun to see that sort of game when you're winning it. Recently, the Twins have won a good share of that sort of game. And it's been a lot of fun.
Phil Hughes pitched last night, and while he might not have quite been dominant he was pretty close. Seven innings, seven strikeouts, seven hits (all singles), only one man past second base. And he needed to be that good, because the Twins only got four hits. One of those hits was a home run by Plouffe, which was a big insurance run. Somehow, they also got stolen bases from Mauer and Kubel. One can only assume this was Gardy adapting to the National League style of ball.
It's been asked just how optimistic we can be about this team. It seems to me that part of being a fan is to be overly optimistic. Not 162-0 level optimistic, maybe, but still. Every year, even Cubs fans start the season by thinking, "Maybe this will be the year." And you know what? Almost every year some team that everyone thought would be lousy comes up and contends all season. Sometimes they make the playoffs. Sometimes they even win the World Series. In spring training of 1987, no one was giving the Twins a chance. Ditto spring training of 1991, when they'd finished last the year before. The 2001 Twins had been candidates for contraction, and they led for a good share of the season before fading at the end. In fact, while you didn't have the sort of media then that we have now, I suspect no one gave the 1965 Twins much of a chance in spring training, either.
Now, does that mean this team is a World Series team? No. It doesn't mean anything of the sort. What it does mean, though, is that you can't never always sometimes tell. It's easy to look at those Twins teams in retrospect and say they were good teams. At the time, though, no one really believed it until they started winning and kept winning.
I have no idea what's going to happen over the next four months. What I know is that it's almost Memorial Day, and we're two games over .500. If the season ended today, well, a lot of teams would be shocked, because they think there's 115-120 games left. But if the season ended today, the Twins would finish second and would miss the playoffs by a half game. Will that happen? Who knows? But it could happen. It's possible. So why not be optimistic about it?
Having swept San Diego, the Twins take a well-earned day off, then move up the coast to take on the San Franciscos for three games. These two wins are, of course, the start of a season-ending 120-game winning streak. We're still on track for 141-21!
The Twins are tied for fourth place, a half game behind the third place Royals. The Tigers have increased their division lead. I suspect it will be insurmountable when the Twins leave town. Insurmountable for the other three teams of course. It was impossible starting in mid-2011 for the Twins.
"When did you get a weak back?" "Oh, about a week back." Doodles Weaver
Can I just state for the record how incredibly tired I am of the awful starting pitching? That's been covered? In depth? Good.
I probably won't see much of this one, because I'll be raking and planting grass in the front yard (had a sewer line put in last fall). I expect to come back and see that Hughes struck out 12 in 5 innings before giving up 4 home runs in the 6th. We'll still win, though, because the offense voted "least likely to amount to anything" has turned out to be chock full of overachievers.
Also, it's time for "Twins on Leaderboards", because that's fun.
rWAR (position players) - Dozier, 8th (1.0)
rWAR (position players) - Plouffe, 9th (1.0)
Batting Average - Kubel, 10th (.319)
OBP - Plouffe, 8th (.412)
Plate Appearances - Dozier, 3rd (109)
Plate Appearances - Mauer, t-6th (107)
Runs - Dozier, 1st (23)
Runs - Mauer, t-2nd (19)
Runs - Plouffe, t-4th (18)
Hits - Colabello, t-6th (28)
Total Bases - Colabello, 10th (46)
Doubles - Plouffe, 1st (10)
Doubles - Colabello, t-2nd (9)
Triples - Fuld, t-1st (2)
Triples - Arcia, Florimon, Plouffe and Kubel t-10th (1)
Home Runs - Dozier, t-3rd (7)
RBI - Colabello, t-1st (27)
RBI - Suzuki, t-6th (19)
Walks - Dozier, 4th (17)
Walks - Pinto, 5th (16)
Walks - Mauer and Plouffe, t-6th (15)
Strikeouts - Mauer, t-7th (26)
Stolen Bases - Dozier, t-5th (6)
Stolen Bases - Florimon, t-9th (4)
Singles - Mauer, t-4th (22)
Extra Bases Hits - Plouffe and Colabello, t-6th (12)
Times on Base - Plouffe, t-3rd (42)
Times on Base - Mauer, t-6th (40)
Times on Base - Dozier, t-10th (38)
Times on Base - Plouffe, t-3rd (42)
Sacrifice Bunts - Florimon, t-3rd (2)
Sacrifice Flies - Suzuki, t-3rd (3)
Intentional Walks - Mauer, t-3rd (3)
Caught Stealing - Colabello, t-4th (2)
Power/Speed - Dozier, 1st (6.5)
AB per SO - Suzuki, 10th (9.8)
AB per HR - Dozier, 4th (12.9)
AB per HR - Pinto, 8th (14.5)
Outs Made - Dozier, 8th (72)
WPA - Colabello, 3rd (1.0)
Well, gee, that was pretty fun...
...now on to the painful side of things
Wins - Fien and Gibson, t-3rd (3)
W/L% - Fien, t-1st (1.000)
W/L% - Gibson, t-10th (.750)
Saves - Perkins, t-4th (5)
Games Started - Nolasco and Correia, t-1st (5)
Home Runs Allowed - Nolasco and Pelfrey, t-6th (5)
Walks - Pelfrey, t-5th (15)
Hits - Nolasco, 1st (43)
Hits - Correia, t-3rd (37)
Losses - Correia, t-3rd (3)
Earned Runs - Nolasco and Correia, t-2nd (22)
Wild Pitches - Gibson, t-2nd (3)
Games Finished - Perkins, t-4th (8)
Well, at least Fien is having fun vulturing some wins.
Since leaving Minnesota last week, having been swept out of town by the Twins, the Royals have a 5-game winning streak they hope to push to six by returning the favor and finishing a 3-game sweep of the Twins. We hope not, but it will depend on pitching.
Yordano Ventura, a 22-year-old righty out of Samana, Samana, Dominican Republic, gets the start for Kansas City. Don't be surprised to see three digits on the radar gun today - Mr. Ventura touched 102 mph last year. In 5 starts between this year and last, he's posted a 2.22 ERA/4.16 FIP/.988 WHIP with 2.9 BB/9 and 9 SO/9.
Facing Ventura will be 27-year-old Phil Hughes, a righty out of Mission Viejo, CA, USA. Signed to a 3 year/$24 million dollar contract last offseason, Mr. Hughes is currently 0-1 through 3 starts with a 7.20 ERA/3.75 FIP/1.667 WHIP with 3.0 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9. In 30 starts last year, he went 4-14 in 30 starts with a 5.19 ERA/4.50 FIP/1.455 WHIP with 2.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9.
And apparently, Joe Mauer is very good at bunting too, but people still hate him.
1. B. Dozier, 2B
2. J. Mauer, 1B
3. T. Plouffe, 3B
4. C. Colabello, RF
5. J. Kubel, LF
6. J. Pinto, DH
7. K. Suzuki, C
8. A. Hicks, CF
9. E. Escobar, SS
1. N. Aoki, RF
2. O. Infante, 2B
3. E. Hosmer, 1B
4. S. Perez, C
5. A. Gordon, LF
6. B. Butler, DH
7. M. Moustakas, 3B
8. J. Maxwell, CF
9. A. Escobar, SS