Hmmmm...I guess I'm not the only one getting that deja vu feeling when it comes to the Twins:
But as they notched their ninth consecutive victory Thursday, coming back to defeat the Padres 4-3, the Twins couldn't’t help but feel some similarities to 2006.
Not the entire 71-33 finish. Not even the 19-1 stretch they ripped off at this very same time of year.
Just the general mood and confidence level.
Good pitching, good hitting, (generally) good fielding and base running will do that. It also helps that two of those series sweeps were against the Nationals and the Padres, not exactly the cream of the National League. Don't get me wrong, because I don't want to rain on the parade here. The Twins are playing better than they were in April and May and if nothing else, they haven't been committing game-costing errors and mistakes. They need to stay reasonably consistent for a few more series before I'll believe they have really turned a corner. Oh, and inter-league play? Been bery, bery, good to me. The Twins went 16-2 in 2006 and they are 12-3 this year going into the final series against a good Milwaukee team. I'm hoping for a lip-smacking 14-4 on that score.
They go against Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, at Boston, and have four at Detroit before the All-Star break. If they can go 10-6 or better over that stretch and still be healthy, then I'll be on the bandwagon for sure. It would mean that they have powered through the frustrating roller coaster they were on even just a month ago. With the White Sox, Indians, and Tigers all playing well below preseason expectations, the Twins are still decent contenders to take the division. Two years ago they had a similar record on this date, but they were already 11 games out of first. They go into tonight's game just a half a game behind the White Sox.
But...I still think they are longshots at this point. I like this team, I like how this team is starting to come together. The bottom of the order has been on fire the last two weeks(local sports commentator Howard Sinker has nicknamed them the Bottom Feeders, recalling the Piranhas of 2006) and the starting pitching is really coming together. Questions about the infield are starting to sort themselves out. And the bottom line from my perspective; they've been fun to watch.
But geez they're young. And they certainly haven't proved to me that they can hang with the power teams in baseball. Before we set the bar too high here, we should remember the four game beating this team took in Chicago just a few weeks ago. It feels like they have turned a corner since then and I hope so, but it won't shock me if they backslide a little.
That said, back at the start of the season I wrote this:
Third place is probably a realistic goal for this year, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this team is going to surprise a few people. They may get beaten more times than not this year, but my sense is that they have a good young team that has all of the raw talent they need to really be competitive any given day. They may be out of the playoff hunt when August rolls around, but if the starting pitching has shaken out by then they may also be a very dangerous team the last six to eight weeks of the season.
I think it's going to be a fun year to learn about these new players and watch them develop. And hey, you never know what might happen.
Third place is starting to look like it would be a disappointment and the development of the new players may be happening faster than I thought it would.
If that's for real, you never know what might happen.