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How Do You Spell 'Success'?

It depends if you want a real answer, a sarcastic answer or an irreverent one.

Actually, all three have the same answer:  play four games against the Royals.  After going 2-4 in the games leading into the series against Kansas City, a four-game sweep of the division bottom-dweller is exactly as the proverbial doctor ordered.  Fortunately for us, things turned out better than the last time we played the boys in blue.

For the first time in the history of the Twins, Minnesota swept a four-game series in Kauffman Stadium.  They did it with a metaphorically limping rotation, a literally limping Jason Kubel and an almost limping Torii Hunter.  You could go on and on about how "not normal" this series was, but at the end of it all we're 4-0...and that's the best news there is.

Series At A Glance
Twins  Stat  Royals

  56   Hits    35
  41   Runs    15
   1   Err      4
   5   HR       2
  19   XBH      8
  18   K       30
  41   BB      11

Certainly, the fact that the Royals are fielding a bad team isn't any sort of a surprise...but they aren't this bad.  Really, they aren't, I promise.  A team fielding nine replacement-level players won't lose a four-game series with an average score of 10-4.

It's not as if this series was all roses for the Twins, either.  Brad Radke, he of the oh-my-gawd-I-have-to-cringe-please-don't-let-his-arm-fall-off-on-this-pitch ilk, looked solid in his start.  Santana, other than leaving a few not-so-choice two-strike pitches up in the zone, really wasn't that bad; even if he wasn't THE Santana.  Silva was alright as well, going six and some change in game three.  Finally, Mike Smith pitched three interesting innings, but the Twins bullpen managed to hold the Royals to only one run in the final six innings.

Did I say the series wasn't all roses?  Because after writing what I just did...I'm not so sure.  Things weren't ideal...but you couldn't really hope for any better.  Let's just say that the offense and the bullpen gave their starters some support when things weren't going as smoothly as they would have liked.

Before And After

A few lines from a few of your favorite Twins; before and AFTER a set against Kansas City.

Luis Castillo
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .275  .336  .364
After     .286  .345  .374

Joe Mauer
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .365  .437  .518
After     .365  .445  .525

Torii Hunter
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .275  .349  .451
After     .280  .353  .460

Michael Cuddyer
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .265  .347  .485
After     .270  .359  .503

Jason Bartlett
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .348  .417  .461
After     .377  .443  .497

Justin Morneau
           AVG   OBP   SLG

Before    .319  .367  .596
After     .321  .376  .599

The Detroit Tigers

Freaks.  They're all freaks.  And I mean that in the BEST way possible.  Pudge hits a walk-off homer.  Inge scores one run on a Monroe single, and that's the only run of the game.  Todd Jones SOMEHOW KEEPS GETTING SAVES.  Joel Zumaya, and who he could be as early as next year when he gains control of that 300 mph fastball, makes me want to crap my pants.  If you haven't figured it out, news flash:  The Detroit Tigers are for real.

Over the next seven days the Twins face yet another week-long test; three games against the Tigers followed by four against the faultering Blue Jays.  All of the so-called "experts", from those on Baseball Tonight to our very own Sid Hartman, believe the Twins simply aren't good enough to make the playoffs.  Yes, they believe this in spite of the Twins being exactly 0.5 games out of the Wild Card.  Of course it's all just "prediction" and speculation, to cause a ruckus and debate and so that should things go as they professed they can say "See?  I told you."  The fact that I brought it up is some sort of victory for them, I suppose, but a team that's half a game out of a playoff spot zero chance of a postseason berth is a bit premature.

But that, and Sid Hartman, is a tangent I'll save for another day (probably tomorrow).  Detroit (remember?  I was talking about them just a minute ago) is 20-11 since July 1, which is basically the rate they've been winning at all season.  They aren't slowing down, their offense has some pop and they still boast Major League Baseball's lowest ERA by more than 1/3 of a run.  A series victory for the Twins will require more over-achieving by our beloved Rochester callups, more spectacular performances by the bullpen, a couple of solid starts from whatever is left of the rotation and hopefully another Jeremy Bonderman meltdown on Wednesday.

Hold on for a bumpy ride.