Overall Record: 55-42
2nd in AL by 0.5 games
7-9, 10-6, 7-9, 7-9, 13-4 = 44-37
This split began with the final game of interleague play. 12 of the 16 games were against teams in the top 5 in the AL in scoring (Detroit, Boston and Texas) - a good test for a pitching staff that had dominated NL opponents. The starters responded, going 10-2 with 12 quality starts in the 16 games. They were led by Glen Perkins, who won 3 games and had a 4th blown by the bullpen. In his last 4 starts, he totaled 26 IP, 23 H, 7 ER, 7 BB, 13 K for a 2.42 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Please, let's banish all thoughts of sending him to the bullpen to make room for Francisco Liriano - Franchise could hardly do better.
The bullpen struggled a bit in this split. While 11-5 is very good, it could have been a sensational 13-3 had they held a couple of 8th inning leads vs. Detroit and Boston. Matt Guerrier, Dennys Reyes, Craig Breslow and Boof Bonser all got nicked for ERAs over 5.00. Brian Bass was the biggest problem, allowing runs in 4 of his 8 appearances and allowing the only run of the Twins' 1-0 loss to the Red Sox. His overall line over those 8 appearances: 7 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. At this point, I don't think the Twins would have too much trouble slipping him through waivers. And if they lose him - shrug.
Denard Span was called up to play RF for the injured Michael Cuddyer, and gave a good account of himself. He hit 4 doubles and 2 triples, drove in 5 RBI from the #9 hole, and had an excellent 10/9 BB/K ratio, producing a line of .354/.466/.521. Wouldn't it be great if the leadoff man hit like that?
Delmon Young continued his progression, batting .375/.385/.563 with 3 doubles, 3 HR and 13 RBI. Justin Morneau mashed to the tune of .431/.529/.741 (not a typo!) with 9 doubles, 3 HR and 15 RBI, drawing 12 BB against just 5 K. That makes Joe Mauer's .333/.475/.604 with 4 doubles, 3 HR, 12 RBI and 13/6 BB/K rate look rather pedestrian. In fact, everyone in the lineup has been playing fantastic over the last 16 games, except for Carlos Gomez. He hit just .200/.246/.262 with 4 doubles, 3 BB and 17 K. Maybe he could be batting 9th?
Finally, the defense has returned to Minnesota Twins standards. Not only did the team commit just 6 errors over the last 16 games (a pace which would have them #1 in the league had they played that way all season), they made numerous plays in which their range took away runs and bases from their opponents. I hope Nick Punto will be able to return soon to SS. I'll be a bit torn when Cuddyer comes back - Span has gotten to a lot of balls out there that Cuddy would have had drop in or get by him.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Gomez will no longer be batting leadoff by the end of the next split.