If you can call the first two-game losing streak and the first series loss more than 20 games into a baseball season a "rough patch," then the Twins have hit their first rough patch of the season. They're a little banged up; some of their slow-starting hitters still haven't found their groove; the bullpen finally showed some vulnerability; the bench looks a little thin. Etc.

And of course, they're still 14-8 and leading the AL Central, looking like the team to beat over the course of 162 games. And that's what we really want to talk about: how this team will handle a few in-season slumps considering the expectation level for this team is higher than anything we can recall during the Ron Gardenhire era. (Sure, the 2004 and 2006 teams had high hopes in the postseason with good reason, but we're talking about start to finish).

This is a team that, by and large, is used to being the little engine that could. With the $32 million payroll increase helping the Twins surge into the top 10 in baseball, they are no longer that. They have more than enough pieces in place for fans to reasonably expect them to win 95-100 games, make the playoffs and go into a postseason series not looking overmatched -- that last thing being something that probably happened only once during this recent run, when the Twins were favored and then swept by the A's in the 2006 ALDS.

That's not to say they can't or won't deal well with the burden of expectation. But just like the 2009 Vikings -- who, all in all, dealt with it pretty well -- it will be interesting to watch how the Twins handle the role shift, the scrutiny, the highs and the lows that go with it. Our best guess is they have the right mix of players to handle it pretty well. We will, however, be watching it.


Game 22: Tigers 3, Twins 0. Tigers pitches: 139. Twins pitches: 102.

Number of times the Twins have seen more pitches than an opponent in a game: 20. Record in these games: 14-6.

Number of times the Twins have seen fewer pitches than an opponent in a game: 2. Record in these games: 0-2.

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