Whether it was scheduled or not, the Minnesota Twins were going to get an off-day on Thursday. A handful of 70-and-sunny afternoons were too much for the Minnesota weather gods, who turned the temperature down 30 degrees and doused the Twin Cities with reality. It’s not June just yet.
We’ll find out soon enough if the downtown drizzle is enough to cool off this Twins team, winners of six of their last seven games after taking Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels. Let’s not forget that they were 14-28 after losing Game 1 in Anaheim, 7-1, and cold to the touch. A club expected to compete for the division had been banished to the AL Central cellar.
But the weary Twins were able to muster a 10-0 win over the Cleveland Indians the next day and take the series from a division contender even though they had to fly out to Southern California in between their series against the Chicago White Sox in Minneapolis and the three games in northeast Ohio to make up two games against the Angels that were postponed due to a COVID outbreak in their clubhouse.
If anything, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles felt normal. Minnesota had won 13 straight over Baltimore dating back to 2019, before the you know what. Back in the days when the Twins were hitting bombas into the crimson summer sky.
“We got to Cleveland, and you could tell Friday, everybody was kind of running on adrenaline,” said reliever Tyler Duffey after sweeping Baltimore. “We got in at whatever time it was. The sun was coming up. We kind of powered through that day [and] got through that series.
“You could just feel there’s a little extra energy. When the team’s rolling, it seems to work that way. Like I said, hopefully this is a big sign of things to come and continued success as we get guys back off the DL.”
The Twins are awfully joyful for a team that is 20-29. But, again, it’s not quite June yet. There is plenty of time left. Chicago and Cleveland are not running away with the division, and Minnesota will play the Kansas City Royals and the Orioles in their next 10 games. Win out and they have a winning record going into home series against the New York Yankees and Houston Astros.
It’s now or never. But it seems like a good sign that the Twins played 18 games in 17 days, and the manager had to take a second to think about whether or not an off day was going to beneficial. Will they cool off or convalesce?
“It’s a welcomed off day for us,” said Rocco Baldelli, “because you can only play at this level so many days in a row and still continue to ask your guys to go at it. Our guys are gonna deeply enjoy being off their feet for a day, and we’ll be ready to go when we show back up.”
A 14-28 start leaves little margin for error. Perhaps a 45-degree day will disrupt Minnesota’s momentum. But Baldelli insisted that this team always had this inside them. Maybe it was Mike Bell’s tragic passing at the beginning of the season, a COVID outbreak, and other disruptions like the lights going out in Oakland that hampered the Twins at the start of the season. But the bullpen issues could crop up again, and this team will never be able to lean on the long ball as they did during the summer of 2019.
We’re going to find out really quickly how much any of this was an anomaly. Things are becoming normal again. Eventually, Target Field will allow full capacity, and the April games played in a wintry mix will be a distant memory. A strong performance in the next 10 games will enable them to have a reset. Then, anything is possible. Remember, it’s not quite June yet.