I think the novelty of it is kind of worn out. I'm obviously a bit of a traditionalist. If you want to play in interleague play, get to the World Series. I even think some of the novelty has kind of gotten away from the fans a little bit. I'd rather see American League teams play in the American League, and National League teams play in the National League. There seems to be National League fans and American League fans, but sometimes there's not much of a crossover -- especially in those cities that have two major league teams like Chicago, New York, the Bay area and Los Angeles. I'm just not a big fan of interleague play at all. I'm not a fan of watching American League pitchers hit that don't train to hit. The last thing you want is somebody to get hurt when they walk up to the plate and they're not used to hitting.
Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports
2. Phil Hughes' ability to change the eye level has contributed to his success.
He's in command of his pitches. He's throwing his fastball for strikes. He's throwing his curveball for strikes. He's done a really nice job of changing the eye line of hitters. What I mean by that is he'll throw his fastball low in the zone. He'll keep his curveball down. And then he's not afraid as the at-bat goes along to climb the ladder with certain hitters and throw that fastball up in the zone. It's very difficult for hitters to lay off of that pitch. He just turns it loose. He's gotten a lot of outs that way. So he changes the eye line. If the hitter's looking down in the zone and you shoot one high and you're mixing it up high and low and in and out, you're doing a really effective job of pitching. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports
3. Kurt Suzuki has exceeded expectations on offense.
He's been extremely valuable. He might be the steal of the offseason so far from a free agent signing standpoint. I think that he's done everything that the Twins have asked, and more. He's bringing a level of stability to the pitching staff. I don't think that anybody dismissed his offensive abilities, but he certainly has exceeded any of the Twins' expectations in that he's driving in runs, he's making contact. I think everybody in the Twins organization had a pretty good idea that Kurt Suzuki was a good contact hitter, able to drive the ball, not going to strike out much and is going to give you a good, solid at-bat. I think Suzuki, for whatever reason, has found a way to be comfortable here, comfortable in the clubhouse, comfortable with the coaching staff and the manager. All those lead to positive things. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports
4. The bottom of the lineup is doing a better job of getting on base.
With Brian Dozier in the leadoff position, he's only going to lead off once during the course of the game. You want to have guys on base when Dozier comes up. You want to have guys on base when Mauer comes up, when Plouffe comes up, because they're going to be the RBI guys. You're not going to ask the world from the guys in the bottom of the lineup. That's why they're at the bottom of the lineup. But by the same token, if they can add some offense and do some things offensively, that bodes well. That makes your offense that much more efficient and that much more dangerous. That's a good thing. Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Sports
5. The Twins are winning close games, a sign of improvement from last season.
When Gardy says that his guys are competing right to the end, I think that's a pretty significant sign that they're in close games. There haven't really been any blowout games. They compete right from the first pitch to the last pitch. There's nobody that is able to tell that more than the manager of the ball club. If he says they're competing, you better believe him. I think that it really shows in the fact that there haven't been many blowout games, they're right in every ball game, they have an opportunity to win just about every game that they've been in as of late. They've done a nice job of putting a whole pile of those wins away. That's a good thing. That's all you ask is for your guys to compete. Photo: Craig Lassig / Associated Press