Note: For those of you unable to access the DTFC forum, try our new link. The URL had been changed but you should be able to get there now. Enjoy today's entry!
Entering the 2004 season, a lot of so-called “experts” predicted that our beloved Minnesota Twins would falter this season and relinquish their AL Central crown to someone else, for a variety of different reasons. The main grounds for this argument stemmed from the Twins’ losses of key talents like LaTroy, Eddie G., The Gambler, and A.J. (not to mention my former favorite Twin, Milty). The other oft-cited reason was that this “transition” version of the Twins just wouldn’t have the same clubhouse comradery and chemistry as those back-to-back division championship teams. In fact, I seem to recall a certain current Twins player (*cough* Doug Mientkiewicz *cough*) expressing the same concerns.
I, along with many other Twins fans I know, scoffed at this sentiment. Unless you play for the Yankees, I believe that chemistry is something that comes hand in hand with winning. When you win, all of those intangibles inevitably fall into place. When you lose, things don’t run as smoothly.
Where the 2002-03 versions of the ballclub came to be known in some circles as the “Contraction Kids”, the 2004 version is quickly establishing itself as the “Comeback Kids”. I’m sure some of you have undoubtedly seen this statistic already, I think it is still extremely telling: the Twins have rallied for 11 of their 14 wins this season and are also 9-6 when the other team scores first. Of those 11 wins, I would consider about 5 of them to be bona-fide “comeback” wins: the first two vs. Cleveland, the 9-7 win over KC, and these past two wins over Toronto.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s wins have especially impressed me. I can imagine how easy it would be to roll over and lose faith in both situations. On Tuesday, you’re down by three runs going into the ninth, you’d been soundly beaten the night before, and Miguel Batista is cruising. I was as excited as anyone when I heard Gordo’s surprised voice say “…this one might have a chance to be a home run…and, it is! Touch ‘em all, Jacque Jones!” My roommate, a Bostonian, couldn’t quite understand why I was jumping around for joy. “Twins win! Twins win!”- I can’t imagine a more appropriate time for celebration than hearing those four words.
Wednesday’s game was one of highs and lows. I thought that the Twins had it in the bag when they took a 5-1 lead going into the eighth. Kyle Lohse had pitched his best game of the season (he bailed himself out big-time with that 1-2-3 double play in the sixth), and we had our best reliever in J.C. coming in to preserve the lead for our pseudo-closer in the ninth. Then, the roof caved in. J.C. loaded the bases with two outs, and Kevin Cash hit a sinking liner that bounced off Stewart’s glove (and then ricocheted off his body!), which turned into a three-run double. It would have been a difficult catch, but it didn’t seem like Stew got the greatest jump in the world. Jacque probably comes up with that ball.
The Comeback Kids never say die, however. Good ol’ Sweet Lew (who is still the official player of this blog) started to shift the momentum back towards the hometown nine with his leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. A couple clutch hits by Michael Ryan and Stew, coupled with some bizarre mistakes by the Jays’ Terry Adams led to 4 more Minnesota runs. What a game!
These past two wins have sent out a clear message to the rest of the American League: these Comeback Kids are here to stay.
Notes: I’ve got a couple of quick questions that I would appreciate an answer to in the comments section below: When is the DTFC forum going to be back up? Also, why can’t we get video highlights from Twins games over at mlb.com? Does anybody know?