After posting losing records in April, May and June, and falling so far behind in the AL Central that it appeared as if the Twins might set some records for futility, the team heads into the All-Star break looking like a completely different team. Suddenly, the Twins can hit, pitch and play defense, all of which was nowhere to be found at the beginning of the season.
Three weeks ago I was a nattering nabob of negativism, predicting the worst for the Twins before the break and expecting them to get swept in most of their upcoming games. Over one 12-game period, I had them falling to 24-61. Instead, at the break, they are 32-56. OK, so that’s not great, but they are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a 5-2 mark against the Texas Rangers, the best team in the American League. And they not only beat the Rangers, but crushed them, getting victories of 17-5, 10-1 and 15-5 — all of which were on the road.
The 15-5 win came on Sunday. The Twins banged out 18 hits, including four home runs and a grand slam from Max Kepler. Every Twin in the starting lineup had a hit. With that much offense, Tommy Milone earned his second win, throwing 82 pitches over five innings before he stepped aside for the bullpen. Taylor Rogers pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to Neil Ramirez — and his performance might be a concern. Ramirez threw 51 pitches over two innings, giving up three runs, all earned, including a home run. He has an ERA of 6.00.
Still, let’s focus on the positives. This has been the best stretch of play from the Twins ALL SEASON. And I’m not going to say they will contend in the second half (wouldn’t that be incredible?), but perhaps they play .500 ball, or slightly better, and that win-loss record doesn’t look so lopsided.
They also turned three double plays on Sunday.
Play resumes Friday at Target Field when the Twins welcome the red-hot Cleveland Indians. The Twins, though, are 4-2 against the Tribe this season.
The Twins’ improved play hasn’t gone unnoticed:
#MNTwins have a +35 run differential against the AL's best team. Go figure.
— Cory Provus (@CoryProvus) July 10, 2016
In their last 20 games the #MNTwins are hitting .288/.357/.510 with 32 HR and averaging 6.7 runs. 🔥🔥🔥
— Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN) July 10, 2016
The Twins outscored the Rangers by a 62-30 margin in their seven games in July, winning 5 of 7. Scored 38 runs in four-game series in Texas.
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) July 10, 2016
The Twins have scored 8 or more runs nine times this season. Five of them have come in the last eight days.
— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) July 10, 2016