Monday, May 10, 2010

2nd Split: 10-6

Overall Record: 21-11
1st in AL Central by 3.5 games

Other split: 11-5

The Twins haven't shown any signs of slowing down through the first 1/5 of the season. They still sit in the top 3 in the AL in several prominent offensive, defensive and pitching categories. Perhaps most importantly, they went through a stretch of 21 games against division rivals and came out of it with a .667 winning percentage. And not because they swept KC but struggled against the Indians. They have a .667 winning percentage against all 4 AL Central rivals. That's a big reason why they've outplayed their nearest competition, the Tigers, by better than 3 games already.

The offense put up 83 R, nearly identical to the 81 R they scored in the first 16 games. This despite playing without Joe Mauer for about half of this split. Justin Morneau and JJ Hardy also missed significant time. The Twins are averaging about a HR per game and a SB every 2 games. They're still getting basically zilch with the bases loaded, though. I'm concerned about the depth of the bench - it's a big step down from the starters to Alexi Casilla and rookie catchers - but the team has been able to pick up injured players without breaking stride so far.

The pitching staff allowed 57 ER, nearly identical to the 56 ER they allowed in the first 16 games. Francisco Liriano finally gave up some runs, but Nick Blackburn returned to form, and Carl Pavano and Scott Baker have also put together a couple of excellent starts in a row. Jon Rauch and Matt Guerrier each blew a save, but the Twins split those 2 extra-inning games. Jesse Crain has gotten better, Alex Burnett has slipped a bit. The net effect is still pretty darned good.

The defense allowed 3 unearned R on 5 errors. That's actually significantly worse than what they delivered in the first split, but in a way that's sort of like pitching a 6-hitter the start after a perfect game. Sure, not as good, but how could it have been? Overall, the Twins are easily the surest-fielding team in the league, and their UZR is looking good, too.

The Twins will get a huge test in this upcoming split: 6 games against the Yankees, and 2 in Boston. It's time to prove that this team can be a threat to the titans of the East.

Bold prediction: The Twins will hit at least one grand slam during the next 2.5 weeks.

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