The Royals continue to bring new meaning to the term: Really Bad Team.
Since June 8 the Twins are an incredible 21-2. Last night seemed to be another win ready to fall in line with Santana on the mound, and as Morneau homered early there wasn't any reason for doubt. Then, when Kansas City took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning, admit it, something crept into the back of your mind...the Twins might lose.
Santana, effective early and mortal later
Thirty minutes later the Royals had reminded you of who the Twins were playing, and you were wondering what you were worried about in the first place. Give a team two walks, two passed balls/wild pitches, give up a hit and hit a batter, and what do you get? A 3-run top of the eighth.
While the Twins have won 21 times in 23 games and 26 days, the Royals have won 27 games all year. It must be hard to be a Kansas City fan this year.
The comeback last night came at a great time. Both the White Sox and the Tigers lost, bringing the standings to this current state:
Team W L GB
Detroit 56 27 --
Chicago 53 29 2.5
Minnesota 46 35 9.0
Admittedly we're still a ways back, as we're still a healthy 6.5 games behind the White Sox and the Wild Card spot. All the same, ground IS being made up, since on the evening of June 7, the standings looked like this:
Team W L GM
Detroit 37 22 --
Chicago 35 22 1.0
Minnesota 25 33 11.5
That's a long time just for making up 4 games on the White Sox, and just 2.5 games on the Tigers. But the issue goes beyond the standings. On the evening of June 7, the Twins were NOT a good baseball team. They were frustrated, hapless, luckless and in need of a handful of changes. Now, in spite of their torrid streak of success and still being 9 games out of first, we're watching a completely different team. Minnesota has become competetive and fun to watch. Every game I watch I believe we'll win.
Mauer launches his sixth home run of the year
It's taken outstanding performances from a number of players to get us to the point where most of us thought we'd be at this point in the season: a winning team and a competetive team. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan have been unbelieveable. Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Brad Radke, Juan Rincon, Jason Kubel, Nick Punto and Jason Bartlett have all come on at the right times. Every night there's a different hero, a different contribution from a different guy. Pitching is largely brilliant, fielding is vastly improved, and hitting is timely and prolific.
There's not much more you can say about the Twins. They've been awesome, and so, so, SO MUCH FRIGGIN' FUN TO WATCH. I don't know about you, but I'm watching the Twins with a newfound sense of hope and inspiration for the future. We're not there yet, but we're in a position to make a run.
The game is tied as Cuddyer touches home
Last night was just another example of how this team is getting it done. While the Royals destroyed themselves, the Twins didn't force anything. The hitters were patient and took what came to them; the pitchers found their groove and were able to close out the game.
Justin Morneau crossed the plate to give the Twins the lead
Congratulations on another victory, boys. With two more games against the Royals coming up, the Twins have a legitimate chance to extend the winning streak to 13 games by Wednesday. The final three games before the All Star break are against the Rangers, and going 2-1 against Texas would give the Twins a 50-36 record going into the break. My fingers are crossed, and I can't wait for tonight's game.