Second that Emotion: Lauding the Twins' win streak
Eschewing numbers for the day as I'll be posting a chunky Twins Mid-Season Player Rater at mid-week, I'd be wholly remiss to not make mention of our recent winning ways. The statistics have been juicy as the club took games from four Cy Young starters in less than a week's time, and then highlighted the run with yesterday's precise Kevin "Brad Radke" Slowey shutout win over Ben "The best anonymous pitcher in baseball" Sheets.
The ten-game streak may have concluded on Sunday, but Slowey's economical performance yesterday stopped an inverse streak, and gave the inspiring club their twelve win in the last fourteen ballgames.
Again, more numbers later in the week. For me, here are three moments during the ten-gamer that loudly expressed to me that the Twins are presently playing with the emotion of a team for whom anything short of a run at the postseason suddenly looks like a defeatist prophecy:
1. Friday, June 20th, Game #74 : Anger
Having swept the lowly Nationals to bust back over the .500 mark at 37-36, five-time Cy winner Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks came to town. After going hitless the first two innings, the Twins exploded for 6 runs off of Johnson in the third. The inning was highlighted by right fielder Craig Monroe's two-run blast off of Johnson. Immediately following his shot, Monroe jogged the bases with a collected demeanor upon his face. However, after crossing home and just prior to returning to the dugout, Monroe let out a primal scream, contorting his expression into something more resembling primal anger than an MLB ballgame.
When I was coaching, I was always an advocate of telling my ballers to play loose and have fun, but at the same time a coach-- at any level-- will never shy away from having his club play with a little anger.
2. June, 25th- Game #78: Youth
Taking their seven-game win streak up against four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux, the Twins trailed 0-3 in the top of the third, having accrued no hits in the first two innings. But the Twins rallied and with 2 outs and Brian Buscher on second, Carlos Gomez got hit by a pitch before Alexi Casilla singled and scored Buscher. With two on, and two out, Joe Mauer then smacked a deep, opposite field double scoring Gomez and Casilla to knot the game. With Gomez behind the plate to direct the runner, Fox cameras captured Casilla literally leaping into Gomez' arms in a moment of pure, unfiltered exuberance. Most teams can't claim such pure joy and enthusiasm come June. Some teams never do.
3. Friday, June 27th- Game #80: Rare Expression
With their shot at a double-digit win streak in jeopardy against the Brewers, Minnesota and Milwaukee jockeyed to a 6-6- tie in the bottom of the 8th inning. With two outs, none on, and after having fouled off five straight pitches against Brewer reliever Guillermo Mota, Joe Mauer belted a solo shot to deep right center to give the Twins the lead, and the eventual victory. After rounding first, Mauer-- who, let's face it, usually emotes about as much as the keyboard on which I now type-- offered a rare departure from his oft-stoic nature and raised a clenched fist toward the dome roof, bringing the announced crowd of 30,104 up from their blue seats, and cementing the club's double-digit streak.