What Can the Twins Learn From the Last Time They Won Six Straight Series?

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins are currently on a winning streak, but not the one fans typically consider. Their 12-game winning streak concluded over a week ago, but they haven’t lost a series since they hosted the Detroit Tigers at home from April 19-21.

Minnesota has won its sixth straight series after taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays. Twins reporter Do Hyoung Park pointed out that the last time the Twins had a consecutive series winning streak of six games was from August 27 to September 16, 2010.

During the inaugural season at Target Field, the Twins went 14-4 while winning series over the Seattle Mariners, Tigers, and Cleveland. They swept the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and Chicago White Sox to conclude the series winning streak.

Seven ‘magnificent’ players carried the Twins through this winning streak. Joe Mauer, J.J. Hardy, Danny Valencia, and Jim Thome carried the offense. Thome was the spark. He played in 12 games during that stretch, the fewest games among Minnesota’s hot hitters. However, Thome slugged 1.494 OPS with a .400/.561/.933 triple slash, five home runs, and 12 runs batted in.

Hardy’s 12 RBI tied Thome for the team lead during that stretch. His OPS was nowhere near Thome’s, but still was a respectable .875, and he had a .350 batting average. Valencia was in the middle of a red-hot rookie campaign. While he was homerless in 13 games, he maintained a .370/.392/.478 triple slash and a .871 OPS.

Finally, there’s 2024 Hall of Fame inductee Mauer’s run. He played in 17 games during that 14-4 stretch, the most of any Twins hitter. Mauer did what he did best, posting a .354/.417/.446 triple slash and maintained his chase for the batting title against Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera.

On the pitching front, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, and Francisco Liriano were carrying the Twins through the winning streak. Blackburn was in the middle of one the best four-game stretches of his career – if not the best. He posted a 1.09 ERA over 24 ⅔ innings, only allowing three runs and striking out 15. Opposing hitters had a .188 batting average on balls in play against him.

Duensing was still a starter in 2010 and a valuable member of the Twins rotation. Through 22 ⅔ innings, Duensing had a 1.59 ERA and 3.03 FIP, only walking three batters while striking out 13.

Liriano was in the home stretch of his second-best season in a Twins uniform. Minnesota’s 2008 and 2009 pitching staffs were in rough shape, even though Minnesota made the postseason in ‘09 and missed out by one game in ‘08. In 2010, those flaws in the rotation looked to be behind the Twins, thanks to the resurgent Liriano. He made three starts over the winning streak, throwing 20 innings and posting a 2.25 ERA. He also had 18 strikeouts and only four walks allowed.

The makeup of these seven Twins players was crucial to keep this six-straight series win streak going. However, the win streak never made it past six. Minnesota dropped two out of three to the Oakland A’s at Target Field from September 17 to 19, and Liriano and Blackburn’s starts against Oakland led to the end of the streak.

Looking back on this history, the 2024 Twins have seven comparable players to Minnesota’s star players in 2010.

Ryan Jeffers is a hybrid of Mauer and Thome from 14 years ago. He has a triple slash of .333/.405/.746, an American League-best 1.151 OPS, six home runs, and 18 runs batted in.

Max Kepler is playing some of his best baseball since his breakout 2019 season. Kepler returned from the injured list at the beginning of the 12-game win streak and has played in 18 of the 20 Twins games since then. He’s hit .413/.465/.698, with a 1.163 OPS, three home runs, and 17 runs batted in.

Willi Castro has gone from one of the coldest starts in his career to one of the best 20-game stretches. Castro has hit .354/.378/.608 with a .986 OPS, two home runs, and 11 runs batted in. During the series win streak, he’s tied with Edouard Julien with a team-leading four stolen bases.

Then there’s the veteran first baseman Carlos Santana, who looked cooked through Minnesota’s first 20 games. But Santana has shown he’s still capable of performing in the league since then. He’s hit a team-leading seven home runs, 19 runs batted in, a .278/.342/.625 triple slash and a .967 OPS. The team has also thrown its sausage at him more than any other player. Santana leads the Twins in sausages caught (6) and dropped (1).

On the pitching front, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Chris Paddack are the three starters anchoring the Twins through the series winning streak.

Ryan has thrown the most innings out of the three, leading the team with 25, and has a 3.24 ERA over his four starts during the streak. Ryan has kept opponents to a .215 batting average, struck out 23, and has only walked three.

Ober has one fewer out than Ryan in this stretching, going 24 ⅔ innings in his four starts. He’s posted a 2.92 ERA and kept opponents missing more frequently with a .155 opponents batting average, struck out 28, and has only walked four hitters.

Finally, Paddack has bounced back from a stretch of bad starts to start the season. Paddack has thrown 24 ⅔ innings, too, and posted a team-leading 1.93 ERA over his four starts, keeping opponents to a .255 batting average. Paddack has also stuck out 28 batters but tied Ryan by only walking three in that time span.

Winning streaks are hard to maintain. The 1991 Twins had a season-high eight straight series wins during their 15-game win streak and won two series after that. The New York Yankees will test this year’s Twins team. The Yankees are 12-8 over their last 20 games.

The Twins won their first season series since 2001 against the Yankees last season, going 4-3 against them. New York hasn’t won as many games as Minnesota recently, nor have MVP’s Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton performing at their best. But the season is still young, and they are still the Yankees. There is no better team for the Twins to be tested against to keep this win streak going.

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