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The Last Stand of the 2012 Twins

A final look back at an odd campaign

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

So far this year, I have looked back a decade and examined the 2012 Minnesota Twinsdisappointing opening series, as well as Trevor Plouffe’s momentous hot streak later that summer. There were of course some other interesting phenomena in ‘12, including...

  • Danny Valencia & Drew Butera both batting exactly .198 in 120+ PA.
  • Ryan Doumit becoming the backup catcher (& oft-DH) and having everyone who attended the first few games at Target Field think his surname was “Donut” because of the way it came out over the PA (or was that just a “me thing”?).
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka trying to make a comeback after a disastrous 2011 and playing in a grand total of 3 contests—never collecting a hit and barely able to field even the simplest of plays.
  • Sean Burroughs appearing in 10 games and ruining every year-end Sporkle quiz attempt.
  • In a rare highlight, Denard Span & Ben Revere roamed the same OF quite a bit and were fun to watch (also much-needed with Josh Willingham stationed—intentional phrasing—in LF).
Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
Two of my Twins favorites!
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This will, however, be my last nostalgic look back at 2012. Why? Because any hope of salvaging that season ended at about this time—early July—that year.

Let’s make no bones about it—the Twins were a bad team (33-45) coming into a 4-game series (July 2-5) at eventual division-winning Detroit. But after years of Gardy-led team comebacks, a Twins fan could squint really hard and think “well, you know, if we just...”.

Such irrational hope took root a little deeper when the Twins topped the Tigers 6-4 in Game One. The bats pounded Doug Fister & Co. for 13 hits—3 apiece from Doumit and SS Brian Dozier—and Anthony Swarzak picked up a win in long relief of Liam Hendriks (quite a sentence when you really think about it).

Game Two further bolstered spirits, as it was again claimed by the visitors 8-6. After a bummer of a Nick Blackburn start (4 IP, 6 ER), the bullpen quartet of Jeff Gray, Kyle Waldrop, Tyler Robertson, & Glen Perkins blanked the Motor City Kitties the rest of the way. Home runs from Willingham, Plouffe, & Joe Mauer paced the scoring for Minnesota.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
Was this the ice bath the Twins needed to wake up?!
Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Unfortunately, Game Three saw Justin Verlander stride atop the diamond’s middle bump, and he did Justin Verlander things: 9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 K. A two-run double from Prince Fielder in the bottom of the first mathematically put that contest to bed, but Miguel Cabrera added two home runs along the way for good measure.

The series finale was a tight one—until it wasn’t. Scott Diamond (7 IP, 2 ER) shined, but—despite MN cranking out 15 hits to DET’s 9—the “relief” trio of Alex Burnett (0.1 IP, 3 ER), Robertson (0 IP, 1 ER), & Swarzak (0.2 IP, 1 ER) were anything but in a 7-3 Tigers victory.

That loss dropped the Twins 10 GB of the AL Central lead—a number which would never again get to single digits. Meanwhile, the Tigers would go on to sweep the Yankees in the 2012 ALCS before having the San Francisco Giants return the favor in the World Series.

Ultimately, the Twins finished 66-96 in 2012—proving that 2011’s collapse was a trend rather than a fluke. Despite still averaging 34,276 paying customers, this was the end of the new stadium “honeymoon phase” and the realization—for many Twins fans—that the Gardy Good Times (TM) were over.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
Pretty good showing in September for a 95+ loss club
Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images