Movin’ On Up! 1 Down, 3 To Go!

The Twins’ dramatic win today over the Padres, combined with the Royals’ 5-4 loss to St. Louis, moves the Twins out of the AL Central cellar and up in to fourth place in the Division for the first time since May 8.

Our guys didn’t gain on the Indians, who outlasted the Pirates in an extra-inning game to gain a sweep of their own, or the Tigers, who slapped the Rockies around, or even the White Sox, who beat the D-Backs again. The Tigers remain 1 game behind Cleveland and the Bitch Sox are 5.5 games back of the leaders (just 2.5 games ahead of the Twins). The Twins have Monday off, while all three of the teams ahead of them start new interleague series on Monday.

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect the Twins to continue winning games at the pace they’ve been on as they not only go on the road, but do so against the defending World Series Champion (and current NL West leader) San Francisco Giants and the current NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.

But a 9-1 home stand is nothing to sneeze at and after this 6-game road trip, they’ll come back home for another nice long home stand.

Five weeks ago, the Twins trailed the Royals by 7.5 games in the standings. Today, they passed the Royals and are taking aim on the team ahead of them, the White Sox, and there’s no sign of any “quit” in this team.

I’m already on record as saying the Indians simply don’t matter and I stand by that. Take a look at their schedule between now and the All-Star break and tell me they won’t be lucky just to stay in the top three of the standings. They get the Rox, the Giants, the D-Backs, and the Reds before hosting the Yankees and Blue Jays just ahead of the break.

The White Sox will very possibly be looking up at the Twins in the standings by the break, but the Tigers will be a lot tougher to close the gap on. Their schedule is softer and I’m betting they’ve got a three game lead in the division by the break.

It’s too early to know whether the Twins will use this stretch of success to springboard them up in to serious contention as the summer goes on, but a while back I wrote that I would be happy if they’d just show the kind of effort and skill that would make it fun to watch them again… and they’ve certainly done that.

Whether or not the Twins WILL turn themselves in to legitimate contenders remains to be seen, but I think we’ve reached the point where nobody should dare tell them that they CAN’T do exactly that.

– JC

4 Replies to “Movin’ On Up! 1 Down, 3 To Go!”

  1. I’d been wondering whether you really take it for granted that the Twins will finish the season with a better record than the Indians. It looks like, yes, you do assume that’s a given; but, not only that, you expect the Twins to catch the Indians probably by the All-Star break, and “very possibly” the ChiSox, too! Wow, these are heady days! 🙂

  2. I do in fact believe Cleveland’s a fraud. They’re where they’re at because of their fast start and because Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota have all had varying lengths of time where they sucked. I do, in fact, believe that someone, whether Chicago or Minnesota, will pass the Tribe by the AS break and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it would be both. The Twins would obviously have to stay very hot to do that, but I’m pretty confident Cleveland will do their part and probably play less then .500 ball between now and the break. Let’s put it this way… I believe the Twins will be within 3 games, one way or another, of both Chicago and Cleveland, at the break, and while the WhiteSox don’t have as tough a schedule as the Indians, if they struggle at all, I see no reason why the Twins shouldn’t have moved up in to 3rd place by the break. The one thing that could really screw things up is if the guys still on the DL don’t come back relatively soon. I don’t like the way their return dates keep getting pushed back every week.

  3. Honestly, I hope that Cleveland winds up with a winning record, because I think surprise success stories are good for the game. I also think the Indians have legitimate quality on the roster, and on the farm, although their rotation is looking thin. Meanwhile, I have the feeling that the Twins aren’t really good enough to catch both of the frontrunners (and it wouldn’t be so bad if Smith is in position to trade some veterans for prospects next month, anyway), but who knows? It’s hard to judge a 31-39 team as it is riding the crest of a 2-week hot streak. (For what it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus currently projects the Twins to finish 4th, with a 4.8% chance of reaching the postseason.)

    Anyway, their current run puts them back in the race. However, the Indians are on pace for 90 wins, the Tigers 88 wins. If 90 wins will be needed to take the division, the Twins still must play .641 ball the rest of the way to reach that goal. The best team in the league right now, Boston, has a .606 WP to this point.

    Does this 31-39 team have that in them? It really means, no more bad weeks the rest of the season. If they win just 6 of every 10, on average, they’ll probably fall short unless the Indians and Tigers both stumble. If the Twins play .550 ball (89-win pace), they’ll wind up with 82 wins and will need both frontrunners to collapse.

    We’ll see, but for me it’s still early to get on the #Itshappening bandwagon. I’m just glad that the team is giving the local fans some good baseball to cheer for, at least for awhile.

  4. I agree that right now it’s just fun seeing good baseball again.

    I also agree that the Twins can’t afford many, if any, bad stretches from here out.

    I think the Tigers COULD reach 90 wins and, if they do, the Twins won’t be winning this division. I don’t see the Indians reaching that level unless they make some very good deals in July and I’ll be surprised if they’re willing to trade good young players for veteran rentals.

    Bill Smith’s track record on trading veterans for good prospects has been less than impressive, so I’m not at all enthusiastic about the Twins being “sellers” at the trade deadline. That said, the Twins could actually continue to contend and still be able to afford to trade a veteran. In fact, that’s the subject of today’s post (if I get around to posting it).