After nearly 5 and a half months of mediocrity, the Twins have suddenly decided to be awesome. They've unleashed an 11-2 run, averaging 6.2 runs/game, and all without their All-Star, former MVP cleanup hitter. Thanks to Michael Cuddyer, who stepped into the infield and has hit .370 with 6 HR and 19 RBI in Morneau's absence, and also the bottom of the order, where Delmon Young and Matt Tolbert have taken advantage of everyday playing time by hitting over .300 for the month, joining Nick Punto in that respect. Couple that with continued strong play from Denard Span and Joe Mauer and solid contributions from Orlando Cabrera and Jason Kubel, and the Twins are slugging their opponents into submission.
It was apparent a couple of weeks ago that the Twins were going to have to take at least 5 out of 7 from Detroit this month in order to have a shot at the division title. That means that they have to win 3 out of 4 at Comerica Park this week. While splitting the series won't eliminate them, it will force them to lean rather heavily on White Sox to play a great series on the road. Not holding my breath there. So I'm thinking about this like it's a best-of-five playoff series, and the Twins have already lost game 1. Playoff teams bounce back from losing game 1 just about every year, so it's doable. Unfortunately for the Twins, they have to play all of the remaining games on the road.
The match-ups aren't terrible. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Twins send their #1 and #2 starters against Detroit's #4 and #5 guys. Nick Blackburn has big-game experience from last fall, and Brian Duensing has been money as a starter. If the Twins can at least split the first 2 games of the series, they'll be in good position to get wins in the last 2. One thing I hope they've learned from last weekend: take care of Gerald Laird - don't try to steal on him, and don't walk him. Just about every big inning the Tigers have had this year came when the terrible hitters at the bottom of their lineup got on base.
Every spring, I hope that the Twins will still be playing meaningful games the last week of September. As they have most every year this decade, the Twins have fulfilled my wish.
By the way, this is how big a Twins fan I am: I woke up this morning, turned on my computer, and thought, "Oh, yeah, the Vikings played yesterday. I wonder how they did..."