Fresh off of an impressive 5-0 homestand that saw the Twins take two from Chicago and three from Detroit, the boys now visit the White Sox for three on the South Side. The series begins what should be a most telling stretch of 20 games in 20 days against tough competition that includes visits from Boston and Toronto, before heading west to take on defending N.L. champ Colorado.
But signs are positive, as evidenced by our first-place standing and two-game lead over the Sox. As losers of six straight, the White Sox haven't found May flowers. Rather, their atmosphere has been showered with some much-publicized Ozzie Guillen spittle, and instead of describing their plight and problems as internal, I think it's safer to say that the White Sox are blowing up.
Things are looking far sunnier here on the home front. Sunday's inspiring win versus the Tigers marked the Twins' biggest comeback since July 15, 2002. The result of overcoming that 6-run deficit six years ago? The club went on to win 15 of their next 18.
But before looking at where we might be going, let's focus on what took us to today. Here are both some team, and individual players numbers that we can focus on during this key stretch that is the next three weeks:
-Joe Mauer is finding his swing. With multi-hit games in each of the last three, Mauer has soared to #2 in the A.L. batting race with a .333 average. What's more, of Mauer's ten multi-hit games in '08, the Twins have won seven. In games that Joe has gone hitless, the team is 2-5.
-In games that Carlos Gomez has multiple steals, the Twins are 3-0.
-Of the team's 16 wins, Justin Morneau has been on base in fourteen of those contests. In our 14 losses, Morneau has 0 hits in six of those games.
-Nick Punto has appeared in 19 games thus far. The Twins have won 63% of those.
-Mike Lamb has played in 14 of our 16 wins. Of those 14 ballgames, he has hits in 8. In addition, Lamb has appeared in 11 of our 14 losses. Of those 11, he has gone hitless in 7.
-The club is 4-1 for games in which Delmon Young has stolen a base.
-The Twins are 6-2 when Brendan Harris has multiple hits.
-When Jason Kubel has an extra base-hit, the team is 6-1.
Here is the Twins' record for contests in which the following relief pitchers appear:
-Pat Neshek: 9-5
-Dennys Reyes: 6-6
-Matt Guerrier: 6-7
-Jesse Crain: 3-7
-Juan Rincon: 3-7
-Brian Bass: 2-6
(Note that this tracks the outcome of games in which said pitcher appeared as an individual, and does not account W/L when they've appeared in tandem)
-Joe Nathan is earning his new contract extension, with a stellar 11 saves in 11 chances. Also, he's given up just 7 hits in 10 innings pitched, with a lone run allowed all year (that coming in a rare non-save appearance).
-While the club is 13-2 when leading after 7 innings, we're 0-11 when trailing after 7.
-The club has hit just 2 Home Runs after the 7th inning all season (extra innings included).
-The pitching staff has allowed an MLB-low 73 walks. While the staff's home ERA is 2.92, the away number balloons to 5.77.
-After 30 ballgames played, the 3rd inning seems to be the focal point as our guys have an overall inning-best .316 AVG and .381 OBP in said inning; furthermore, foes are hitting an opponent-best .322 with a .366 OBP in the 3rd.
-The team is 5-0 on Saturdays.
-Over the last seven days, the Twins have hit .293 as a team, coupled with an On Base Percentage of .346.
These last numbers should translate well over the next three days, as the Twins hit .319 as a team in their series at Chicago earlier this year, and in 2007 hit a very solid .292 as a team a Cellular Field. That accounted for their top team away-average within the Central Division.
Here are the projected pitching match-ups for today, Wednesday and Thursday:
Tuesday: RHP Nick Blackburn (2-1, 3.52 ERA) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (2-1, 3.16 ERA)
Wednesday: RHP Livan Hernandez (4-1, 4.43) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (1-3, 4.42)
Thursday: RHP Kevin Slowey (0-1, 8.10) vs. LHP John Danks (2-3, 3.12)