First, the qualifiers: The Twins' recent 8-2 stretch, which lifted them back into the middle of the AL Central after a 10-game losing streak, has largely come against Milwaukee, Seattle and Kansas City -- three teams in the bottom half of MLB in runs scored. And, aside from the opponent factor, there are plenty of other reasons for the run -- including a lights-out bullpen (0.96 ERA in recent work), a suddenly homer-friendly lineup (including a hot streak from Ryan Doumit) and sound defense.

That said, it's also time to note this: The Twins' starting pitching, which was abysmal during the 10-game losing streak and for much of the early part of the season, has at least been functional during this stretch. We count five quality starts among the 10 and three others that fell just short but fall into the "gave the team a chance to win" category (one 5.1 inning start with 3 runs and a pair of 6-plus inning starts with 4 runs). These have been highlighted by the work of Sam Deduno, who has given up just one run in 13 innings over his past two starts, including six shutout innings last night. It would still be nice if Twins' starters worked deeper into games in order to make sure the bullpen doesn't tire out. That said, Ron Gardenhire looks like he has enough arms there that six innings on a regular basis -- as opposed to the short starts we were seeing so much early on.

During this 10-game stretch, starters have gone 59.1 innings and allowed 26 total earned runs. That adds up to almost 6 innings per game, with 2.6 earned runs allowed per contest. It's an ERA of 3.94. That won't set the world on fire. And again, it hasn't come against the most potent of lineups. But if the starters can at least maintain something close to that level of competency, things get so much easier. Advanced stats help explain the game on a micro level; on a macro level, it's not hard to see the difference six good innings make.

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