Ahhh. Nothing like a series with the White Sox to make me feel good about the Twins heading into the All-Star break. I managed to watch 3 out of the 4 games this weekend and I have to say, I was generally impressed with what I saw. Living in Chicago, it's always interesting to me to hear what the White Sox announcers have to say about the Twins. One thing is for sure, the Twins are in the heads of the announcers, for sure, and perhaps even the entire White Sox team. After taking 3 of 4 over the weekend, the Twins have won 9 out of their last 10 against Chicago and 29 out their last 36. Sometimes I wish we could play the White Sox all the time, fortunately we get 19 games against them every year.
After playing to a 17-36 (.321, 52-win pace) record through the end of May, the Twins have turned around with a 24-12 (.667, 108-win pace) record since June 1st. They enter the All-Star break with a 41-48 record, sitting in 4th place, 6.5 games behind the division-leading Detroit Tigers. One year ago today, the Twins were sitting in 3rd place with a 46-42 record, 3.5 games behind division-leading Chicago...I'm just sayin' for as good as the memories are of last year's team are, they weren't in all that different of a situation than this year's version is. The difference is that this year's squad dug themselves a massive hole at the beginning of the season and last year's team had a slump in the middle of the season...it's all about perspective. I don't believe this team has 108-win talent, but I also believe they're way better than a 52-win pace. Hopefully this division continues to run mediocre and the Twins can have the final laugh when it's all over.
Being that I live in Chicago, I usually watch Twins v. White Sox games on Chicago television which inevitably means a run-in with Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the play-by-play (and color) man for the White Sox. Generally he's irritating to listen to, but he's been in baseball for a LONG time and has a deep knowledge of the game, which I can appreciate. During one of the games over the weekend he said that in all of his years of baseball, he's never seen a team have as many injuries to key players as the Twins have had. Given that this team is still in contention...with everything they've gone through, I think Gardenhire and his coaching staff deserve some serious praise. It wasn't that long ago that this team was carting out a mostly Triple-A lineup on a nightly basis, and a lot of those guys are still up here and are contributing in big ways.
The Twins did some shuffling after yesterday's game, sending down Rene Tosoni and Rene Rivera to make room for Delmon Young and hot-hitting Trevor Plouffe. It's good to see Delmon back, especially considering how ugly his ankle injury looked initially. With him and Kubes out the outfield defense has been better, but I think we've missed their bats. As for Plouffe, my gut tells me that calling him up will end in disaster (and another eventual demotion), but I guess he's earned a shot with his bat. Where the Twins will find him playing time is a mystery, but he did kinda force their hand. Either way, I'm happy because a few months ago I purchased an ad for this blog on the Trevor Plouffe baseball-reference page so Plouffe = traffic, thanks Trevor!
Looking ahead to "2nd half", the Twins have 12 straight games (at home!!) against AL Central opponents starting with 4 against Kansas City. Starting on July 18th they will have 8 straight games against the Tigers and Indians, both of whom are in front of them in the standings. This will be a key stretch for the Twins and could mean the difference between whether the Twins are sellers or not. Congratulations to Michael Cuddyer on his All-Star selection, enjoy the break and GO TWINS!!