Admittedly, there aren't a lot of candidates to choose from in a season that is only 10 games old and involves just three victories for the Twins so far. But Monday night's game had a certain quality about it. The 7-3 victory wasn't the most dramatic -- that goes to the 10-9 win last week over the Angels -- nor was it even the most cathartic, which the first win after the 0-for start can claim.
But it was the most satisfying. And we say that because it was the first game out of 10 in which the sum of everything that happened resembled the Twins' ideal when they put together the master plan blueprint for 2012.
A season of hope was built on the notion that Carl Pavano could once again be a bulldog, willing himself deep into ballgames without the world's most tremendous stuff. He gave himself an extra challenge Monday, coughing up an early 2-0 lead with two swings from the first two New York hitters. But he settled down and was tremendous in winning at his old limping grounds. Pavano finished with six strikeouts; no Twins pitcher came in with more than six K's on the season, so that's notable.
A season of hope was built on Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau being productive. The M&M boys shined again, getting five combined hit -- including a home run and two doubles -- and are starting to actually look something like the hitters they were before Morneau's concussion signaled the start of what would become a downward health spiral for both. Morneau was at first base for the first time all season. If he can play more there -- dicey, but perhaps worth finding out -- it means Mauer and Ryan Doumit can do more sharing of the catching/DH spots, which is better for both of them.
A season of hope started with wanting Josh Willingham to be everything he has been so far. Willingham won AL Player of the Week honors and was shifted into the cleanup spot between Mauer and Morneau last night. The move still would have made sense even if Willingham wasn't red-hot; as it is, it makes all the sense in the world -- giving the lineup more right-left balance and perhaps taking some pressure off Morneau.
A season of hope started with the notion that the bullpen could be functional with some rebuilding and shifting of parts. Brian Duensing had a solid eighth inning in a role usually reserved for the hobbled Glen Perkins, while Matt Capps continued in his quest for a redemption year with a reasonably smooth 9th.
We're not saying this all makes the Twins sudden contenders; remember, it was Pavano vs. Freddy Garcia, and the page turns back to CC Sabathia in the Yankees rotation tonight. It's just noting that this was the Twins' ideal game in pretty much all facets -- for the first time in 10 tries.