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.