When the Twins were going through a 10-game losing streak from May 14-24, they made it look like they were headed for another disastrous season just like the ones they had in 2011 and 2012.
Then they beat Milwaukee in four games, and split the first two with Seattle — winning Saturday 5-4 thanks to a three-run ninth inning — and looked more like a team that should have a winning record.
This year’s squad is 24-29 through 53 games, compared to 20-33 a year ago and 17-36 in 2011.
And while many in the media and in the fanbase can’t see this team playing .500 baseball this season, one person who believes the present roster has the ability to post a winning record in 2013 is Ron Gardenhire.
“Well we feel we have hitters all the way up and down our lineup,” the Twins manager said. “We have some athletic guys. The starting pitchers have a few track records, we just have to get them going. We know it’s not perfect right now. We know a few of our starters are coming off injuries. We’re trying to be as patient as we can and get as many in as we can.
“We’ve relied too much on our bullpen. We need our starters to go deep like [Kevin] Correia did [pitching into the seventh inning]. We’ll be a better club when that happens.”
After getting shut out Friday, the offense was again quiet for much of Saturday before the ninth-inning comeback, when the Twins drew three walks in a row off Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. Josh Willingham hit a sacrifice fly and then Ryan Doumit’s two-run triple won it.
“In Milwaukee we started coming up with some big two-out base hits and some big RBIs,” Gardenhire said. “You need to continue that if you’re going to keep on winning.”
One hitter who can make a big difference between winning and losing is the switch-hitting Doumit who, after going 3-for-5 Saturday, is still only hitting .230 on the season. But he is hitting .320 over his past six games, with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, four runs and 10 RBI.
“We talked about it; He’s big, he’s big in that lineup,” Gardenhire said. “He was scuffling a little bit early trying to find his swing and trying to find a feel for it. I think you’re seeing the guy we had last year that drove in a lot of runs and did a lot of good for us [hitting .275 with 75 RBI in 2012]. None were bigger than that one today, that was a huge hit to finish off a very good closer.
“Right now his confidence is really high and he’s seeing the ball really good and squaring it up again.”
Another good sign about Saturday was that this Seattle team seems to have the Twins’ number. Over the past three seasons, the Mariners have posted a 14-6 record against the Twins, who have had a hard time scoring runs off Mariners pitching.
Joe Webb said he has been very comfortable in the switch from quarterback to wide receiver, and the Vikings organized team activity drills going on at present have given him a chance to prove to coaches that he can be successful at a new position.
“I like it, it’s coming along good. The coaches are doing a great job with me and it’s getting better each day,” Webb said.
He said the adjustment is easy because he played some receiver in college. He also believes that having played quarterback gives him a big advantage.
“I know a lot that’s going on, like the type of coverage the defense is trying to play,” Webb said.
There has also been discussions about Webb’s role on special teams this season. “Doing a little work there,” he said. “Definitely will work on special teams and everything will come together.”