Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
I felt a little bit sheepish turning away from the Twins a couple of times this week to watch the Wild flail through its playoff run, which ended up looking like of one those Twins-Yankees playoff series from the last decade. But through the miracle of the iPad and MLB At-Bat and a Twitter feed that pretty much tells me everyone -- more than I need to know sometimes -- I was able to keep up and ...
keep up and ... (searching for the right words)
keep up and (trying for some understatement here) be pretty impressed with the way things went this week. After scuffling through Detroit and Cleveland, where they played some games that looked like the games we were scared about, the Twins battered Boston in three out of four -- and came awfully close to sweeping the first-place Red Sox.
Thirty-one games into the season, the Twins are above .500. Granted they could be below .500 by the end of Saturday's game, but I'm guessing you would have given me odds if I'd been willing to bet on the Twins having a winning record after 31 games and their first road trip of substance.
Stuff is happening that we couldn't have expected, most noticeably to arrival of Oswaldo Arcia, who was supposed to be here for a quick look and has pretty much announced that he has little intention of returning to Rochester. Through 18 games, Arcia has pretty much been to hitting what Aaron Hicks hasn't been -- and his offensive leaps have allowed to Twins not to be overly concerned with the baby steps of progress and regressions shown by Hicks. I'm still convinced the Twins are doing the right thing by letting Hicks make his mistakes in Minnesota rather than Rochester.
Arcia's work in Boston obscured the Fenway troubles of Josh Willingham (hitless in his last three games in Boston) and that Trevor Plouffe has reversed a career trend and is hitting this season for a higher average (by 50 points) with men on base than with the bases empty.
Some of the confidence in Arcia should come from the way he has batted -- hitting to all fields and, according to those who know more than I do, making adjustments that you wouldn't expect from such a young player. "Pace" is a tricky thing, but I am OK with him striking out 140 times in 500 at-bats (his current rate) in return for a combination of power and smarts at the plate.
But the point here isn't to go too deep with numbers or figure out why things have been happening. It's much simpler: The Twins are 16-15 and not close to the disaster that lots of people were anticipating. Remember, after 31 games last year, the Twins were 8-23, and the year before they were 12-19 -- and would be 12-27 before winning another game.
To compensate for watching the Wild, I'm going Target Field tonight (and Saturday and Sunday, too). Yes, I'm more in than I thought I'd be.
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