May 10, 2015

Twinning: Twins show winning form early

Hope does spring eternal, especially if you’re a baseball fan. And even more so if you’re a fan of the Minnesota Twins because after a disastrous start to the season, Twins nation — if such a fan following exists — have plenty to get excited about.

Twins held scoreless for 20 innings to start the season, which breaks the franchise record previously set by the 1940 Washington Senators.

— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) April 9, 2015

The headline news is that after starting the season with only one win and struggling to score runs in the team’s first seven games, the Twins have reeled off a 17-7 record since then, moving them into third place in the AL Central with a record of 18-13, a game and a half out of first place.

BREAKING: The #MNTwins are relevant!

— Phil Mackey (@PhilMackey) May 7, 2015

So how did this happen? Has it been the influence of first-year manager Paul Molitor? The hitting? The pitching? The bullpen? Or, as one sportswriter suggested, perhaps it’s hitting coach and former Twins’ slugger Tom Brunansky who deserves the credit, transforming the team into the “Brunansky Brigade.”

16 hits, 7 runs today for Brunansky Brigade. Only oh-for was Santana. Not bad for lineup with ,642 OPS in cleanup spot. #MNTwins

— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 10, 2015

Whichever the case, all of the above has shown improvement. The hitting and pitching are that much better and the team is scoring runs again. But if I had to hand out a few early season awards, here are my picks:

-Paul Molitor: The skipper has tweaked the lineup just enough to find some early life. He also has shown the right patience, giving young players like Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas a chance to rebound from cold starts. Let’s hope Oswaldo Arcia finds his stroke after he returns from the disabled list; if not, Eduardo Escobar and Shane Robinson might become the every day solutions.

-Torii Hunter: The 39-year-old former member of the Twins seems to be right back at home, hitting .280 and leading the team in home runs and runs batted in. So where does Hunter go from here? Hopefully the entire season is a fitting and productive end to his baseball career, most of which has been spent with the Twins.

Torii Hunter closing in on 2,400 career hits, 350 homers: http://t.co/cJ3cuqp0iZ

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) May 9, 2015

-Joe Mauer: The team’s franchise player continues to hit, even if he no longer hits with a great deal of power. Still, he leads the team in hits and always seems to find a way to be productive.

-Glen Perkins: Perkins anchors the bullpen as the team’s closer, and so far has racked up 10 saves.

-Mike Pelfrey: Starting pitcher Pelfrey was a disaster last year, quickly producing an ERA of 7.99 and then spent the rest of the year recovering from an injury. But this year, amazingly, he is undefeated with an ERA of 2.62.

-Kyle Gibson: Starting pitcher Gibson, like Pelfrey, also has three wins and an ERA under 3.00. Another bright spot is that he established an early scoreless innings streak this season.

OK, so some of these stats aren’t that incredible and may not truly explain the team’s early success. So what is it? Perhaps the Twins simply are overachieving in the early going, much like the Kansas City Royals did last year.

Or maybe the team is just due for a better year and Lady Luck has them in her sights. After all, the Twins have lost 90 or more games the past four seasons.

AND WE CAN BUILD THIS DREAM TOGETHER STANDING STRONG FOREVER NOTHING’S GONNA STOP US NOW

— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) May 7, 2015

My sentiments exactly. Go Twins.

–Rolf Boone

November 23, 2014

A few words about Sara

Sara Boone, who has served with Portland Fire & Rescue — the official name of the fire department in Portland, Ore. — for more than 19 years, has achieved another first, becoming the first African-American woman in the 131-year history of the organization to rise to the rank of Battalion Chief. Sara smiles for the... Continue Reading »

September 30, 2014

A job well done for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire comes to an end

This is a post about job security, tenure and the notion of a job well done because when you’ve been a manager of a professional sports team and have survived the whims of ownership, fickle fans and overpaid athletes for 13 years, you’re doing something right. But that all came to an end Monday for... Continue Reading »

September 26, 2014

Twins recap: Pitcher Phil Hughes shines in another losing campaign

Update: So that’s a wrap on the 2014 season for the Twins, the team finishing 70-92 after splitting a final four-game series with the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, meanwhile, won the division and will advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while the Twins have lost 90 or more games over the same... Continue Reading »

July 27, 2014

Remember the Portland Mavericks? I’m embarrassed I don’t

Frankly, I’m embarrassed. I was born and raised in Portland, Ore., and yet I must confess I knew next to nothing about the Portland Mavericks, a short-lived, independent baseball team that occupied Civic Stadium for five seasons. The Portland Mavericks’ home opener in 1973. That was until I saw a new documentary about the team... Continue Reading »

May 4, 2014

Jack Ramsay, who won title with NBA’s Blazers, dies at 89

Jack Ramsay, the longest tenured coach in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers and who led the team to its only championship in 1977, died last week after a long struggle with cancer. He was 89. NBA Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay What a loss, and what a shock to learn that cancer finally... Continue Reading »

March 28, 2014

Remembering the Twins’ Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett, who patrolled center field and played his entire 12-year career for the Minnesota Twins, would have been 54 this month. His birthday was March 14. But Puckett, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001, died in 2006 at the much-too-young age of 45 from a stroke. His life following the game was tragic,... Continue Reading »

February 15, 2014

Twins GM Terry Ryan announces he has cancer

Godspeed, Terry Ryan. Ryan, the longtime general manager of the Minnesota Twins, recently announced he has cancer after doctors discovered a cancerous lump in a lymph node in his neck. This is not an obituary. Ryan’s cancer reportedly is very treatable, but if he should step away from the game, just as he did in... Continue Reading »

January 10, 2014

Pitcher Jack Morris belongs in the baseball hall of fame

Better luck next time, Jack Morris. Morris, the longtime starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers who also spent one incredible year with the Minnesota Twins, failed to gain entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week after spending 15 years on the ballot. I was sure he was going to get in this year... Continue Reading »

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Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.