I've filled this space with complaining over the past few months. Like you, I'm pulling hard for the Twins, and it gets frustrating when they can't just rip off a winning streak and get a lead in the AL Central.
I've examined a few of the numbers, though - and it might be time for we Twins fans to find something new to complain about.
We complained mightily about the team's bullpen, most of which has been cycled down to the minor leagues or foisted off onto other teams. And since those deck chairs started being shuffled, well - the relief crew has improved to be one of the better ones in the AL. Even taking into account their awful start, they're now third in the AL in WHIP, fourth in save percentage, fourth in ERA, and fifth in OPS against. For the moment, at least, they seem to have found something that works, even if it does involve running Matt Guerrier into the ground again.
We bellyached about the team's inability to play on the road. Since June 1, however, the team is 13-9 on the road - and don't look now, but they've actually won five consecutive series away from home. (If you are the type to complain about the team failing to sweep any of those five series, please stop reading now and go away for awhile, just to calm your nerves.)
We've whined about Nick Punto. Since he came back from injury June 12, he's hitting .270 with a .405 OBP and a .754 OPS. By way of comparison, Brendan Harris's numbers since June 1: .270 with a .308 OBP and a .679 OPS. For that matter, Joe Crede, since June 1: .233 with a .290 OBP and a .690 OPS.
Punto's not the only one to show improvement. Delmon Young is batting .310 since June 1, and seven of his 27 hits went for extra bases: five doubles, two homers. Since June 15, Carlos Gomez has a .329 OBP. And Matt Tolbert has improved the Twins immensely by going back to Rochester.
We've expressed our disappointment in Scott Baker. In June and July, he's 6-1, his ERA is 3.97, his WHIP is 1.12, and he's striking out 8.1 hitters per nine innings. Francisco Liriano's still walking too many guys (21 in 49.1 innings over the past two months), but his ERA is 3.83 over that time, and he's striking out almost exactly one hitter per inning.
I'm forced to conclude that things are actually getting better. After all, the Twins are just two games back in the standings, with seventy yet to play... and their pitching is improving, some of the holes in the lineup are closing up, and they still have two All-Stars in the middle of the batting order.
I'm sure there are still things to complain about. But for the moment, at least, I think I'm going to work on something new: optimism.