Plenty of Minnesota sports anniversaries and years are embedded in our collective sports minds. Merely mention 1987, 1991 or 1998, for example, and the Twins’ two World Series titles plus the Vikings’ 15-1 season spring immediately to mind. But what about some lesser-known anniversaries? We’re here to take a look at some of those, in increments of five years, dating backward from 2013. Today: The 2008 Twins — five things you might have forgotten about that season:
1 When you stop to think about it, 2008 is the year everything could have started to fall apart for the Twins. The 2007 Twins went 79-83, then traded Johan Santana, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett in the offseason, while losing Torii Hunter to free agency. Yet the 2008 Twins managed 88 victories and had five pitchers reach double figures in victories.
2 Remember when Glen Perkins was a starter? Perkins He made 26 appearances in 2008, all of them as a starting pitcher. He finished 12-4 (tied for the team lead in victories) with a 4.41 ERA in 151 innings. But the move to the bullpen was probably a good one overall for Perkins. In 207 career relief innings entering Sunday, he had 215 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA. In 251 innings as a starter, he had just 121 strikeouts and a 5.06 ERA.
3 All of these players had at least 100 plate appearances that season: Adam Everett, Mike Lamb, Brian Buscher and Matt Tolbert. Buscher started 60 games at third base; Lamb had the second-most starts 51 at that position (51).
4 The Twins were languishing at 34-36 as the midpoint of the season approached, but a 10-game winning streak immediately followed and propelled them forward. After that streak, they were never more than three games ahead or three games behind in the AL Central for the rest of the season.
5 That led, of course, to a tie for the AL Central lead with the White Sox after 162 games — and the other Game 163. Though not as tension-filled or memorable for Twins fans as the game that would follow against the Tigers in 2009, it nonetheless was a tightly contested game. Jim Thome’s mammoth homer off starter Nick Blackburn in the seventh inning accounted for the only run in a 1-0 White Sox victory.