With 54 games behind them, the first third of a season has passed the Twins (hence this article’s title; three innings is 1/3 of a game), so it seems a good time to look at how they’ve been doing and what that might suggest for the coming season. There are 108 games remaining, so anything can happen, but one thing is certain: the first third hasn’t been very good.
At this point, the Twins have lost 33 and won only 21. That’s a win percentage of only .389, which would wind up winning us a mere 63 games. If those numbers sound familiar, it’s probably because that’s exactly how last year ended: 63-99 (.389).
On the other hand, last year after 54 games, the Twins were at 17-37 (.315), so we are finally pulling ahead, at least a little, of where we were last year! This is good news; for most of the season we’ve been trailing behind last year and shaping up to have–by far–the worst season in Twins history.
April ended with a win-loss of 6-16 (a pathetic .273, which would win us only 44 games). Compare that to last year after 22 games when we were at 9-13 (.409). The Twins played 26 games in April 2011 and ended the first month of the season 9-17 (.346). This year we didn’t win our ninth game until the 32nd game (giving us 9-23… a hugely depressing .281)!
When May ended we had a win-loss of 18-32 (.360), so things were looking up (but we remained deep in the cellar). On the month we were at 12-16 (.429), so May was definitely a lot better than April! Oddly, May 2011 was the first of three awful months (the other two were the last two of the season: August and September). In May 2011, we had a record of 8-19 (.296). That sounds pretty awful until you look at August and September: 7-21 (.250) and 6-20 (.231), respectively.
So after a very rocky start the Twins seem to be improving, especially recently.
Looking back at the last 18 games, the Twins are 11-7 (.611). They are also 3-3 (.500) at home and a tasty 8-4 (.666…. Demon Ball!) on the road. In the last 10, they’re 6-4 (.600), which suggests they are playing at a consistently higher level. Let’s hope it continues!
You can also see some improvement in our pitching:
As you see, starters’ ERA dropped from 6.75 in April to 5.75 in May–a whole run! Still ugly, but definitely improving. The bullpen has been pitching very well this year (bravo bullpen!), and the team’s overall ERA has dropped consistently. June seems to show a worse ERA for starters, but there’s only four games on the month, and that ERA is inflated by a bad outing by Carl Pavano (who is now on the DL). Meanwhile, check out the bullpen’s ERA this month!!
And the pitching stats for the last 10 and the last 18 show even better performance, especially in the last 10 games. The stats on the season could be better, but we seem headed in the right direction.
And then there’s our other problem area: our batting. April saw us getting an average of 3.95 per game (versus 5.64 by our opponents–not how you win ball games). In May there was a very slight increase to 3.89 (opponents, 5.21). Our overall batting average, which got only as high as .270 in April, started at .259 in May and dropped. It hovered around .240 for most of the month, ending at .244. Currently it’s .247.
On the other hand, the last 18 games show a run average of 5.56 (opponents, 5.50!!). That’s dropped a bit in the last 10 to 4.80 (opponents, 4.70!). In both cases, we’re getting more runs (just barely) then our opponents. And that will win ball games!
Here’s a thing: May 20 (game #41), when our record was 14-27 was the point we synchronized with last year. We stayed in synch until May 26 (game #46), when our record was 15-31. Then we lost one and fell behind 2011 one game. Then we won one and got back in synch. Since then we’ve been edging ahead!
One dark cloud is that we’ve been shut out five times this month (including one no-hitter). That stings!
In closing, condolences to New York Yankee Mariano Rivera who suffered a busted ACL and torn meniscus early in May. Adding insult to the injury, it happened during practice while Rivera was shagging fly balls for fun. By all accounts, Rivera is one of the real gentlemen of baseball; one of the great players and great people of this fine sport. I add my wishes to myriad others in hoping he can be fully healed and returned to the game!
On a more positive note, serious major kudos to former Twins pitcher, Johan Santana, now throwing for the New York Mets. (How odd that these closing notes involve both New York teams!) Santana started his career with the Twins and was one of the great pitchers in the game. He was out all season last year for shoulder surgery, but on the first of June Johan Santana entered the history books with he threw the very first no-hitter in Mets history (51st season of the team and 8,019 games without a no-hitter). That’s just beyond awesome!
“Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.” ~~Bill Veeck