The Milwaukee Brewers reached the one-third mark of the 2014 season on May 28. They were 32-22 and leading the National League Central by 2½ games.
The Brewers went 19-10 over the next month. On June 28, they had the NL’s best record at 51-32 and their lead in the Central had reached 6½ games.
The 2015 Brewers came to Target Field on Friday night having played one-third of their schedule. They were 18-36 for the worst record in the major leagues. Throw in the 31-48 finish to the 2014 season and the Brewers were 49-84 (.368) since that high point last June.
The Twins reached the one-third mark of the 2015 season Friday. They rallied from a five-run deficit, then gave away two runs in the eighth and wound up getting routed 10-5.
That dropped the Twins to 32-22, the same 54-game record as Milwaukee a year earlier.
Perhaps this can serve as a cautionary tale for an underdog ballclub not to get ahead of itself. There was some thought that might be occurring Sunday, after the Twins defeated Toronto in a white-knuckle game and Torii Hunter was quoted thusly:
“We want to prove the critics wrong. That’s always fun. So, they can swallow their words and choke on them.”
Giddiness can be dangerous, particularly for a team that is choosing among Kurt Suzuki, Eddie Rosario, Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez to bat fifth.
The Twins managed a split in a four-game series in Fenway Park, thanks to Trevor May’s pitching in Game 3 and Hunter’s rally-starting, three-run home run and Boston’s fielding in Game 4, and they returned home Friday to a crowd announced at 29,398.
There were a few thousand Brewers disciples in the audience, and they did all the hooting early as Kyle Gibson surrendered home runs to Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy and Adam Lind (a three-run bomb).
So, it was 5-0, and then the Twins put up a five-spot in the fifth, capped by Joe Mauer’s three-run homer, and the now-famous smoke machine was being warmed up in the home clubhouse.
Not so fast.
Hunter didn’t catch Lind’s liner to right that went for a double to break the 5-5 tie in the eighth, and Casey Fien, Suzuki, Trevor Plouffe and Mauer admired Lucroy’s high pop in front of the mound to make it 7-5.
Lind had two more RBI, giving him six for the night, in the ninth and that was it.
There is nothing a fan base appreciates more than unexpected success, and the 2015 Twins have provided that.
For one-third of the schedule.
The Brewers fans in the crowd could have told the locals that such success brings with it no guarantees in the amazing marathon that is a baseball season.
The Twins’ 21-7 record in May shoved some flaws below the surface, but they were there more obviously Friday:
• Designated hitter. Nunez had the duty. He’s a good man to have on the bench to hit, but after the flop of Kennys Vargas (as well as Oswaldo Arcia), the Twins are desperate for someone who offers a sense of danger.
“[General Manager] Terry Ryan and I talk about what to do there,” Molitor said. “We’re looking at someone to come up and help us, but right now we don’t see that.”
• Lefthanded relief. Aaron Thompson was outstanding through 17 appearances to the middle of May. He has been erratic in the 10 since then, including the hit-me breaking pitch Lind lined past Hunter in right to break the 5-5 tie.
Brian Duensing still has an ERA over 9.00 and has deserved his place as the second option behind Thompson.
• Shortstop. Danny Santana is having a poor second season and seems ripe for a demotion to Class AAA Rochester. Escobar is a mediocre fielder there, as demonstrated with one error Thursday in Boston and another Friday.
The only option is Jorge Polanco at Class AA Chattanooga, and my guess is the Twins don’t have the guts to pull the trigger on that.
And, you would like more pop in the outfield with rookie Rosario in left and Aaron Hicks in center, but right now, that’s down the list of fissures that were spouting Friday night.