I really wanted to wait until the Twins won a game before writing this, so it was good they came through Friday before I ran out of patience. It was a nice afternoon to watch Tommy Milone pitch the ball pretty much where he wanted and for Torii Hunter to show off a bit on the bases.
The Twins just aren't as bad as they played in Detroit. Even really good teams go through stretches where the pitching, hitting and defense all disappear at the same time. When it happens in the opening series of the season, though, it's a prime ingredient in buzzkill.
So far, the Twins have played four games in which there was no drama at the end, aside from whether Hunter was going to do something to umpire Joe West on Opening Day that would have been understandable but regrettable. I'm finding drama so far in what happens every time a ball is hit to Oswaldo Arcia in left field. Are you the one whose voice I hear muttering a prayer every time that happens? Arcia looks like a less comfortable version of Josh Willingham in the field. I hope time heals some of that.
I'm not ready yet to draw conclusions. You need multiple weeks to do that correctly, and at least a few close games for any preliminary findings. Will there be as many sloppy at-bats in tight games? How will the relievers about whom we're rightfully suspicious do in the middle innings of a close game? Is Ricky Nolasco's season going to be another ongoing fiasco or can we put away my #FiascoNolasco hashtag? One excellent start isn't enough to prove anything, but have the Twins gotten something special in Milone, whose 2012 and '13 statistics with Oakland made trading for him last summer a good idea?
Four games, no matter how well or badly played, judges nothing in baseball. The most it can do is raise questions, good or bad. Right now I'm wondering if a cobbled-together rotation made up mostly of No. 5 starters can hold together long enough until the Twins figure out what they really have in Nolasco, Kyle Gibson and Milone. I'm allowing myself to hope for the best there, which may be pinning too much hope on the change in pitching coaches. (I'm not allowing myself to think about Ervin Santana because his drug suspension is such an overwhelming disappointment. Those thoughts will get their own slow-day, in-context blog post.)
The Twins aren't off-the-charts good in any way to make up for their flaws. That's a battle we will watch them fight all season, I'm afraid. Detroit has Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in the batting order to make up for struggles elsewhere. Kansas City has a bullpen that makes one-run leads feel safe. Those are two examples of being good enough in some areas to afford weaknesses in others.
The Twins used to have something like that in the Mauer/Morneau days and are hoping to rekindle that down the road with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Baseball is a tough game because a team can play better than the sum of its parts for a week or a month, and then the flaws overtake what's made them look good.
For Twins fans, the issue is when they'll be able to go from being hopeful to being confident of having some success. Think of it as a journey from watching with trepidation to coming to the ballpark with some swagger.