Despite their poor record overall, the 2012 Twins have produced a surprising amount of blowout wins.
By JOAN NIESENFS North
MINNEAPOLIS – Let's not take away from the Twins' 10-0 win over Seattle. Not yet.
Wednesday's game was what every Minnesota fan wanted to see: offensive explosion, stellar pitching, long bottoms of innings and short tops. It was hit after hit for the offense and strikeout after strikeout for starting pitcher Samuel Deduno.
It was so fun, it almost disguised the Twins' 53-77 record.
If this were the first time the Twins had surged to this kind of nearly perfect game all season, there would be more reason for praise. But this has happened before, mostly when Deduno or Scott Diamond has clicked and the offense has gelled. It's happened before, and still, the team struggles.
The Twins have defeated their opponent by five or more runs while holding them to fewer than three 11 times this season. Deduno has done it on three occasions, P.J. Walters once, Brian Duensing once and Diamond eight times. None of those pitchers was in the Twins' initial rotation, and yet they're the ones who are dominant and can provide the spark for these watchable, enthusiasm-generating games that erase, for a few seconds, the bigger picture.
But when that bigger picture emerges again from the mist of winning and hitting and precise pitching, it can become all the more frustrating.
Where were those runs when they mattered?
The Twins are squandering their offense all at once, drying up for tomorrow when they'll need it.
Why can't it be like this all the time?
These are the wishes and despairs and unanswerable questions that surround a losing team, and they can plague the wins. They should, sometimes, but really, they're little more than mental torture.
They can't be explained, so much so that it's okay to defer to humor.
"We never know what happens in this game. I do know this… (theory) about why we get hits and why we got hits tonight," Ron Gardenhire said. "Tonight before the game we had three hall of famers in my opinion – two are there, one should be there – Tony Oliva, (Paul) Molitor and (Rod) Carew standing next to our bats. I could see them shaking before the game, and we started getting hits. So all we have to do is have a hall of famer stand by our bat rack."
But for the Twins, there's a reason greater than superstitious humor to take heart. There's no way Gardenhire expected Diamond and Deduno to be tossing his team into these kinds of victories. He didn't count on them, didn't game plan with them in mind in March and April. Yet here they are, the once-every-few-days catalysts of games a 53-77 team can never count on. Next season, they can play a bigger role. Next season, the luster might wear off, or maybe it will oxidize into something more stable and expected.
Because we're at the point where next season is looming ever more important, and it's only nights like Wednesday that the Twins should strive to remember. These are the nights they should build off of, when things go right and a system seems in place. Next season isn't quite a cop out, but a chance for these glimpses to become less fleeting.
A pessimist whines that games like Wednesday's are nothing new, nothing special to consider when the team will go back to losing again tomorrow. An optimist sets himself up for disappointment. A realist knows that this can never be expected – not now, at least – and enjoys it for what it is.
At least games like these give the Twins hope that there's something to build around next year. There certainly appears to be. They're what's left in the waning days of August, and they won't suffice next year, not if they're mixed with the losses that have surrounded this season's gems.