On June 1, the Minnesota Twins left the city of Detroit having been swept in a three-game series by the Tigers. This left the team with a 17-37 record and trailing the first place Cleveland Indians by a staggering 16.5 games.
Overwhelmed with injuries to nearly every regular position player, the Twins 2011 season certainly seemed to be lost.
Fast forward to July 10. My, how things have changed.
After taking three out of four games this weekend from the hated White Sox, the Twins head into the All-Star break on a 24-11 run over their last 35 games, cutting their deficit in the AL Central to just 6.5 games.
There have been numerous factors that have led to this stunning turnaround: great starting pitching, the emergence of Ben Revere, Alexi Casilla’s impact in the two hole and the “get on my back” performance of Michael Cuddyer just to name a few. Now that the Twins have put themselves in position to make this a summer to remember, they get a well-deserved rest as the All-Star break is upon us.
Three days to relax, get healthy and think about the magnitude of the upcoming 12-game homestand against the Royals, Indians and Tigers.
Talk about perfect timing. This is a chance for the Twins to put themselves right at the top of the standings with Cleveland and Detroit. You will be hard-pressed to find a more pivotal set of home games than this for the rest of the year.
Which player will have the biggest impact in the second half of the season?
Will the break derail their momentum? While that’s always a legitimate question for any team that’s playing well heading into the Midsummer Classic, it may just be what the Twins need to fully recharge and make a run for the division crown once again.
On top of the rest, the team will continue to get healthy as well. Delmon Young should be back Thursday. Denard Span may be ready before the end of the month. While Jason Kubel had a setback with his rehab last week, he should be back within a few weeks if all goes well.
It also sounds as if Trevor Plouffe may be heading back to the big leagues as well. Plouffe leads the organization with 18 home runs (three as a Twin, 15 at Triple-A Rochester).
Now, if the team would just make a few moves in the bullpen—I’m talking to you, Alex Burnett and Jose Mijares—we’d really be cookin’ heading into the second half.
After a brutal start, it’s sure shaping up to be an exciting summer after all. We’ll know a heck of a lot more after July 24.