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Twins haven't won on Opening Day since 2008 (Plus other facts with 10 days until the opener)

twins2008As you stare outside at this gray, drizzly, chilly day in the Twin Cities, it might be hard to believe that Opening Day for the Twins — which is at Target Field this year, a rarity — is only 10 days away.

Whether you view that as a threat or a reason to be excited, it will be here before you know it. As such, here are five facts you should know as we count down to the start of the 2017 Twins season:

1) The Twins open the season on Monday, April 3, with a 3:10 p.m. game against the Royals. They will open the season at home for just the second time since they moved into Target Field in 2010. The extended forecast — a tricky thing this far out — calls for a sunny day in Minneapolis on April 3 with a high of 47. That would be a few degrees cooler than the average high in Minneapolis on April 3, but I think the Twins and fans could live with the upper 40s and sunny that day.

2) Even more rare than opening at home for the Twins? Winning the season opener. Owing perhaps to a combination of often starting on the road, where it is generally tougher to win, and having some poor teams of late, the Twins have not won their opener since 2008. In three of those seasons (2011, 2012, 2016) the Twins were never above .500 the entire year. In the 2008 victory, Livan Hernandez was the opening day starter and got the victory, tossing seven innings and allowing two runs to outduel the Angels’ Jered Weaver at the Metrodome. Yes, that seems like forever ago.

3) Twins opening day starters since their last opening day win: Francisco Liriano (2009), Scott Baker (2010), Carl Pavano (2011 and 2012), Vance Worley (2013), Ricky Nolasco (2014), Phil Hughes (2015) and Ervin Santana (2016. That’s an eclectic mix, to be sure, but it wasn’t all the fault of the pitchers. In losing eight consecutive openers, the Twins have been outscored 45-16 — scoring an average of two runs per game and never scoring more than three in any of the eight.

4) Hey, the Twins have been pretty good this spring. They have a 14-10 record in these tune-up games, tied for third-best among American League teams. ByungHo Park leads the team with four spring home runs and has a 1.140 OPS. Of course, we can’t read too much into spring training results. Last year’s Twins, after all, went 19-11 in the spring and felt good about themselves heading into the season. They then proceeded to lose 103 games, the most they’d ever lost since moving to Minnesota.

5) All that said, let’s leave here with a little optimism. Baseball Prospectus projects the Twins will win 78 games in 2017. While that wouldn’t put Minnesota in playoff contention, it would be a 19-game improvement over last year and restore some hope that the team could contend in the future. Getting off to a good start would help that become a reality. With 19 consecutive games at the start of the season against AL Central foes, we will know where the Twins stand pretty quickly.

Wild's slide is reminiscent of Vikings' plummet, with one key difference

dubnykAfter the Wild beat the Sharks 3-2 earlier this week with a tight, efficient defensive effort, head coach Bruce Boudreau had a little bit of a “yeah, but” reaction. Basically, he wanted to see Minnesota produce that kind of effort and result more than once before he was going to declare the Wild’s slump was over.

And, well, the veteran coach was correct to proceed with caution. The Wild fell back into its losing ways Thursday with a bad 3-1 loss to the Flyers. Minnesota sports fans who are only a few months removed from watching a promising Vikings season go off the rails are wondering if the same thing is happening to the Wild.

The answer is yes — but with a major difference.

In terms of basics of the slumps for both teams, there are definite similarities. In jumping out to great starts and establishing themselves as early favorites to win championships, both the Vikings and Wild had a feeling of doing no wrong. Both had been playoff teams the year before, but both were suddenly on another level. In both cases, there was a nagging feeling that the teams were overachieving, but few predicted that either would fall back to earth so dramatically.

But both did — for now, at least.

The Vikings certainly did. Their season is long gone, with that 5-0 start yielding to an 8-8 finish after eight losses in their final 11 games. As they sputtered to that finish, there was still hope along the way that the Vikings could stabilize enough to at least make the playoffs. But it just never happened. It only got worse.

That’s where the story is different with the Wild, and that’s an important thing to remember. Minnesota, in spite of a Vikings-esque stretch of nine losses in 12 games, is going to make the playoffs. The Wild missed a chance to clinch a playoff berth with that loss to the Flyers on Thursday, but with nine games left it’s an inevitability that Minnesota will still make it.

Although the slump will almost certainly cost the Wild a chance to win the Central Division since Chicago now has an eight-point lead, Minnesota is still in second place in the division with a strong nine-point lead over the Blues and Predators.

So in all likelihood, the Wild is going to have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and will face either the Blues or Predators, depending on which one finishes third. Chicago will face whichever of the two wild card teams has the fewest points — which could very well be the Blues or Predators as well.

If Minnesota is able to find its game and get past the first round to (likely) face Chicago, the Blackhawks would have home ice. So the penalty for this Wild slide essentially might be the loss of one home playoff game.

Long story short: before we get too deep with the Wild vs. Vikings comparisons, remember that the Wild still very much has a chance to save its season. Minnesota won’t go far playing the way it is right now, but if that changes by the time the playoffs roll around the slump at the end of the regular season largely will be an afterthought.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Wild at Detroit

    11:30 am on Ch. 11, 100.3-FM

  • Boston at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Pittsburgh (spring training)

    5:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN

  • Timberwolves at Indiana

    6 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Washington at Wild

    7 pm on NHLN, 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Boston (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Tampa Bay (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • L.A. Lakers at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Ottawa at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Rochester at Twins (exhibition)

    11:05 am

  • Wild at Nashville

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Real Salt Lake at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29, 1500-AM

  • Sacramento at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

Today's Scoreboard

  • NY Mets

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    3

    0

  • Philadelphia

    Boston

     

    - F

    3

    3

  • Washington

    Houston

     

    - F

    4

    1

  • St. Louis

    Miami

     

    - F

    0

    1

  • Toronto

    NY Yankees

     

    - F

    5

    6

  • Detroit

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • Boston

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    7

    5

  • Cincinnati

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    7

    11

  • Chicago White Sox

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    10

    7

  • Milwaukee

    Kansas City

     

    - F

    0

    1

  • Arizona

    LA Angels

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Oakland

    LA Dodgers

     

    - F

    6

    11

  • Cincinnati

    Oakland

     

    - F

    11

    6

  • Chicago Cubs

    Colorado

     

    - F

    4

    7

  • Texas

    Seattle

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • Minnesota

    Baltimore

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • San Diego

    San Francisco

     

    - F

    7

    8

No NFL games today

  • Utah

    LA Clippers

     

    - F

    95

    108

  • Washington

    Cleveland

     

    - F

    127

    115

  • Toronto

    Dallas

     

    - F

    94

    86

  • New York

    San Antonio

     

    - F

    98

    106

  • Minnesota

    Portland

     

    - F

    100

    112

  • Vancouver

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    4

    2

  • Philadelphia

    Columbus

     

    - F

    0

    1

  • Calgary

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    3

    2

  • Toronto

    Buffalo

     

    - F

    2

    5

  • Chicago

    Florida

     

    - F

    0

    7

  • Ottawa

    Montreal

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • Carolina

    New Jersey

     

    - F

    3

    1

  • Boston

    NY Islanders

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Arizona

    Washington

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • San Jose

    Nashville

     

    - F

    2

    7

  • Colorado

    Edmonton

     

    - F

    1

    4

  • NY Rangers

    Los Angeles

     

    - F

    3

    0

  • Minnesota

    New England

     

    - F

    2

    5

  • Real Salt Lake

    New York

     

    - F

    0

    0

  • Portland

    Columbus

     

    - F

    2

    3