Thursday, July 08, 2004

What a Difference a Week Makes...


That one little word sums up the Twins’ recently-completed three game sweep over the Kansas City Royals perfectly. In fact, the Minnesota Twins have never dominated an opponent as utterly over the course of a series as they did KC over the past three days. The last team to throw three straight complete game shutouts in a single series was the Orioles against the Tigers back in 1995, and it has only been done four times since 1973. The only other time this franchise accomplished such a feat was way back in 1913 when the team was still the Washington Senators. A few head-to-head stats from the series:

Twins 25, Royals 0
Twins 34, Royals 13
Twins 3, Royals 0
Twins 14, Royals 0
Royals 10, Twins 2
STRIKEOUTS (pitching)
Twins 24, Royals 17
Royals 3, Twins 0

I could go on and on, but I won’t. It’s safe to say that the Twins completely and utterly dominated the lowly Royals these past three days, in just about every facet of the game. In fact, I could have sworn that the name on the front of the Royals’ jerseys said “Omaha” instead of “Kansas City”. That’s how poorly they played. While I’m ecstatic that the Twins played so well, I’m also saddened by how far the Royals have fallen over the past few months. Despite the fact that they are divisional “rivals” of the Twins, you can’t help but root for a fellow small-market team, especially one that showed as much character and spunk as the Royals did last year. I personally didn’t think that the Royals were for real before this season began, but no one could have foreseen how far they would drop off. It really is a little sad.

Now, back to our beloved Twins. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it was in fact just one week that we here at Twins Chatter (ok, it was just me) were hitting the panic button after getting swept handily by the White Sox in three games. At the time, it looked like the balance of power in the AL Central had shifted; the Twins were no longed the hunted but had become the hunters. Many people said the ChiSox were on the verge of running away with the division.

Not so fast! Since last Thursday, the White Sox have lost five games in a row, including last night’s 12-0 pounding at the hands of the Angels. The Twins, in the meantime, have won five of six, all of them in rather convincing fashion. The Twins turned a two-game deficit into a two-and-a-half game lead in a span of six days. Six days! Talk about playing the right teams at the right time. Kyle Lohse wasn’t quite as brilliant as either Radke or Santana on Wednesday, but he was more than good enough to beat the hapless (and punchless) Royals lineup. The Royals had a grand total of three bona-fide major league hitters starting against Lohse: Angel Berroa, Ken Harvey, and Matt Stairs. And none of those guys are nearly as good as either Mike Sweeney or Carlos Beltran.

With the All-Star break quickly approaching, the Twins sit with a record of 46-37, which is well ahead of last-year’s pace when the team stood 7.5 games out at the break. Sometime during the All-Star break I’ll have a detailed “Half-Season in Review” post, so be sure and look out for that. The Twins start a four game series with the Tigers starting today (Thursday).

NOTE:To all of my fellow bobblehead fanatics, listen to this! The Twins recently announced a Joe Mauer bobblehead giveaway on October 2nd! Now there’s a collectible that will be worth something!

The "Three Amigos" of Radke, Santana, and Lohse all pitched complete game shutouts against the Kansas City Royals this week

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