Monday, July 03, 2006

Obligatory Twinsblogging

I don't know what else to say, except that the Twins have been amazing lately. As of the Memorial Day weekend, the TC Men looked like a Baby Ruth bar in a swimming pool - gross and barely floating. But the past 30 or so days have been nothing short of phenomenal. The Twins have now won 10 in a row and 18 of their last 19 following an 8-0 thrashing of the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday. I have been following baseball for the better part of 35 years now and I've never seen a stretch like this, where a lifeless team suddenly becomes potent in every way. For those of you just tuning in:

  • Twins pitching has been nothing short of phenomenal. You have to begin with the performances of the two southpaw starters, Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano. Liriano and Santana currently rank 1 and 2 in the American league in earned run average, which is still the best single measurement of pitching effectiveness, especially for a starter. Liriano toyed with the Brewers yesterday, striking out 12 batters with a bewildering array of fastballs, sliders and off-speed pitches. Santana was merely the American League pitcher of the month for June. He has been as dominating as he was in 2004, when he won the Cy Young award in a runaway. This year he has competition, from his teammate Liriano. That both of these guys are still well short of 30 is even more amazing. No one in baseball has an answer for these guys.
  • Joe Mauer has received a lot of well-deserved attention for bringing his batting average within a few points of .400, but the real story in June has been the torrid hitting of the other JM, Justin Morneau. Morneau has been absolutely devastating in June, hitting home runs and driving in key runs on almost a daily basis. The shot Morneau hit yesterday in the Dome was one of the hardest hit balls I have ever seen. The ball was gone almost before announcer Dick Bremer could proclaim it so, and it was still rising when it hit the facing of the football press box.
  • The removal of Tony Batista and Juan Castro has totally transformed the offensive look of this club. Replacements Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett have quietly made key contributions all month long, including some very timely hitting that has started or continued big innings in front of Mauer, Morneau et al. You get the sense watching this team that everyone in the lineup can hurt you, even when a sub like Terry Tiffee is in the game. The only guy who isn't hitting for the Twins right now is Lew Ford, but he is seeing a lot less time now and it hasn't mattered.
  • Despite how hot the Twins have been, they haven't been able to make up much ground because the White Sox and Tigers have been equally hot. Ordinarily when a team wins 18 of 19, they will pick up a minimum of 5-6 games in the standings. That has not happened this time around.
  • Right now, the National League looks more like a AAA league than a major league. The Dodgers and the Brewers are contending in their respective NL divisions, but both teams looked feeble in comparison to the Twins. While the respective strengths of the leagues vary over time, the current dominance of the AL is absolutely shocking. The Twins finished their series with the NL teams with an overall 16-2 record. That just shouldn't happen.


stinger said...

I was at the Brewers/Twins game on Sunday, and I gotta tell you, Liriano would have shut the '27 Yankees down. He was unhittable. The Brewers looked like the Timber Rattlers. That was incredible. If it was against any other team, I would've been happy. But, since it was against the Brewers, it was awful!! Biased opinion, I know, but still, I was not happy about that at all. Thank heavens the Brewers are back against NL competition, and that the rest of the NL Central stunk it up against the AL.

As for the balance of power in baseball, it's clear the AL is a lot better than the NL. The Red Sox also went 16-2 in interleague play. Detroit went 15-3 The Mariners went 14-4, as did the White Sox. Heck, even Kansas City went 10-8.

Only Colorado had a winning interleague record in the NL.

Not looking good for you right now against the boy on your bet as to who has the better record. Except that the Twins have to come back down to earth sometime, right???

Anonymous said...

Injuries can derail a team in a hurry. Just ask the Brewers who have two starters, and an every day regular (JJ Hardy) on the shelf. Ask the Cubs, the list goes on and on.......