Twins Keep Rolling Without Justin Morneau, World Series Odds Increasing

Tanner ThomsSenior Analyst IAugust 2, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 28:  Catcher Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins bats during the game against the Kansas City Royals on July 28, 2010 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Despite being without one of the best hitters in the league, Justin Morneau, the Minnesota Twins continue to win ball games, which includes a current eight-game winning streak.

Minnesota continued their streak yesterday with a 4-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Twins ace, Francisco Liriano, pitched seven innings of two-hit baseball.

Despite beating lackluster opponents in the Orioles, Royals, and Mariners during the streak, Minnesota isn't allowing these games to even be close.

On July 26, the Twins defeated the Kansas City Royals by the score of 19-1. Poor Kansas City, will they ever be good again? Not for a long time, I assume.

Back to Morneau.

Like I mentioned earlier, Minnesota keeps on winning games despite being without their best power-hitter. When Morneau went down all Minnesota Twins fans likely assumed that Minnesota will go down a slippery-slope if they couldn't make up for him being out.

Michael Cuddyer shifted to first base, which left a hole in the outfield. Jason Repko and Jason Kubel have done a great job in the outfield, filling in for Michael Cuddyer.

Repko, in 13 games, has averaged .324 at the plate with two home runs and four RBI in 37 at-bats for the Twins. He's also made several great catches in the outfield as well.

Other players like Michael Cuddyer (whose 15-game hitting streak just came to an end yesterday when he went 0-3), Jason Kubel, Danny Valencia, Delmon Young, and Joe Mauer are all stepping up big time, better than ever before this season.

One of the more surprising aspects to the Twins' success is the play of Danny Valencia, who is averaging .388 at the plate with one home run and 13 RBI.

I think it's safe to say that Valencia is definitely the future for Minnesota at third base, like he was expected to be for almost a year now. He should be a top-five contender for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

With the way Minnesota is hitting and pitching, they are solidifying themselves as a serious threat to be in the World Series for the American League.

The superior league, no offense National League fans, has a lot of potential teams that can make a big impact down the stretch on through the playoffs.

The New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and the Minnesota Twins, obviously, are all teams that can be considered for being in October's big event.

As a Twins fan I'm sincerely hoping that the White Sox begin to struggle here in the near future. Despite winning eight games in a row, Minnesota is still a half-game back of the White Sox.

Typically, Chicago struggles with consistency, so hopefully they will come to a stretch where they will not be able to score enough runs or their pitching starts to crumble.

The Yankees and Rays are the biggest threats in the American League, without a doubt in anyone's mind. Both of these teams have been in the World Series over the past two seasons.

They faced the Philadelphia Phillies on both occasions, respectively.

If David Ortiz can continue to pound out home runs like he has all season long, the Red Sox will continue to stay in the Wild Card race. However, they are very unlikely to win the American League East.

The Texas Rangers were expected to be much better this season compared to last with the addition of future hall-of-famer, Vladimir "Vlad" Guerrero.

If Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero keep up their MVP-like seasons, Texas will be a team to be reckoned with over the next two months.

As for the Twins, they will have to get healthy, maintain strong starting pitching, and continue to hit the seems off the ball.

Although they continue to win without Justin, they still need him back. Minnesota fans cannot begin to feel as though we'll be able to beat the Yankees, Rays, either Sox squad, or the Rangers without him.

I do not want to be the type of guy that counts his eggs before they hatch, but I feel as though the Twins have moved themselves to the fourth best team in the American League as of right now.

Minnesota did not make any big trades at the deadline, but they did manage to acquire All-Star pitcher Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa.

The Twins' bullpen is the best in baseball so if their rotation can continue to pitch the way they have lately, Minnesota will be able to limit their opponents to a very small ERA.

Don't get too excited now, but the Twins are looking like one of the best teams in baseball right now.

It's an exciting time for America's favorite pastime right now if you're a fan of Minnesota.

The Twins open up a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays today when Carl Pavano (13-6, 3.21 ERA) takes the mound against a man who has never thrown a pitch in the majors, Jeremy Hellickson.

Game Predictions:

Joe Mauer- 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB
Michael Cuddyer- 2-5, 1 RBI
Delmon Young- 1-4, 3 RBI, 1 BB

Carl Pavano- 7 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 109 pitches

Final score: Minnesota 7, Tampa Bay 3