The Twins are heading into the homestretch of the 2010 season with 50 games remaining on the schedule. At the beginning of the season the majority of fans and writers had pretty much blown off the White Sox and said the Twins would walk away with the division with the only competition being the Tigers. If you’ve been in a coma since late May and woke up today you’d be shocked to see that it’s the Tigers who are sinking fast and the White Sox are tied with the Twins for the division lead. At the beginning of the season I predicted the White Sox would be our toughest competition for the Central and unfortunately it seems even closer than I imagined. With the division tied up and 50 games remaining, it pretty much comes down to a 50 games season right now. If the Twins end up losing the division by a couple games the blame rests on their own shoulders for their performance in the month of June.
Many fans will tell you that the White Sox are not as good as their record indicates because of a weak inter-league schedule. I recall a couple of weeks ago Micheal Cuddyer ripping the White Sox saying they had such an easy schedule. While this may be true, it’s complete crap to use that as an excuse why your team is trailing them. The White Sox did what good teams do, beat the teams they’re supposed to. How easily Cuddy forgets that the Twins were swept by two dumpster teams in June, the Brewers and the Mariners (yes I know Mariners were better then). Those two sweeps meant 6 games in the loss column that could have an impact at the end of the season.
The month of June also saw the Twins turning getaway days into giveaway days. Here’s a scary fact….The Twins lost every Thursday getaway game in the month of June and every Sunday game except for one. If it wasn’t for the Sunday Pavstache gem in Philly, the Twins would have lost every Thursday and Sunday game in June. You can blame some of that on the opposing pitching they faced but as a fan watching the games it felt as if the Twins weren’t the same team those days for whatever reasons. It also didn’t help that Mauer was DH on most Sunday games (even with a Monday off day 3/4 games). I admit though the recent Mauer shoulder news may have had something to do with it but think about this. Drew Butera is one of the worst hitters in baseball and his bat replaced Mauer’s at the catcher position. When that happens, Mauer then replaces Thome or Kubel at DH. That effectively boils down to losing 2 potent bats, -1 for Thome/Kubel and -1 for Butera since he hits like a pitcher. That losing two bats couldn’t have helped the Twins chances those days.
It’s all worked out to be an exciting final 50 games of the 2010 season kicking off tonight in Chicago. While all of these games mean something, I think it’s important to realize ALL games in the season mean something. A win in September is the same as a win in May. Imagine if instead of being swept by the Mariners and Brewers in June, we took 1/3 games each series. One or two wins early in the season could have a huge impact in a division known for it’s close finishes and game 163′s.
P.S. This is gonna be an exciting last 2 months of baseball.
**** Sept 15th UPDATE ****
Well who would have thought the Twins would have a 7 game lead on the White Sox at this point. The Twins are only 1.5 games back of the Yankees for the best record and home field advantage. If the Twins didn’t get swept and took 1 of 3 from the Brewers and Mariners, it’s tied up.