Minnesota Twins: 2011 Picks Up Where 2010 Left Off

Tim ArcandCorrespondent IApril 3, 2011

TORONTO,CANADA - APRIL 1:  Yunel Escobar #5 of the Toronto Blue Jays turns a double play as Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins slides into 2nd base on opening day during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre April 1, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.(Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

For the Minnesota Twins, 2011 is a brand new season. So far it's looking too much like how 2010 finished. 

The Twins finished off the regular season by losing three of four games against the Toronto Blue Jays. In that series, the Blue Jays hit 10 home runs and outscored the Twins 25 to 11.

Fast forward to Opening Day 2011—same two teams, different venue, same result.

The Twins were able to win the third game of the series, just like they did last October. In one less game, Toronto again hammered the Twins with seven home runs in the three-game series and outscored Minnesota 22 to eight.

The Twins' next stop is New York City where their 2010 season ended with a three-game sweep in the ALDS. Manager Ron Gardenhire is 4-25 at Yankees Stadium since taking over in 2002. In his nine years as the Twins' skipper, the best Gardenhire has been able to do is a 4-6 record in 2008—but even that season the Twins lost all three games at New York.

The Twins play 25 of their first 40 games this season against the best division in baseball—the American League East. The Twins have not finished above .500 against the AL East since 2006.

Since 2007, the Twins have a .402 winning percent against the East (58-86) while playing .572 against everyone else (291-218).

If Minnesota is going to contend for their third straight AL Central Division title, they will need to fare better than that through the middle of May—I don't see that happening.

The Twins return pretty much the same team from last year with the exception of Alexi Casilla at shortstop and Tsuyoshi Nishioka at second base.

Justin Morneau, who is returning from a concussion that ended his season on July 7th in Toronto, was eased back into the lineup during spring training and only had 33 at-bats.

Along with Morneau, many of the Twins regulars were limited this spring. While it is not a huge concern when three-time batting champion Joe Mauer only had 20 at-bats, Michael Cuddyer (21), Jim Thome (29) and Delmon Young (48) were all limited this spring.

In fact, the Twins starting line up did not all play together on the same field until March 24th, leaving only a little over a week for the team to get ready for opening day. 

With the majority of their games over the first six weeks against the best division in baseball, and with an expected slow start out of the gate, come May 15th, I see the Twins with an 18-22 record, and most likely in third place in the AL Central.

The key may be how the Twins fare in their four game series against the dreaded Yankees.