Twins avoid worst start in team history

April 12, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — When the Minnesota Twins took the field Wednesday, they were the only team in Major League Baseball without a win. After a 6-5 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels, the Twins were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Minnesota snapped its four-game losing streak with its first win of the year Wednesday, a come-from-behind victory against Jared Weaver and the Angels. When Matt Capps closed out the win with first save of the season, the Twins had a reason to celebrate. After the game, thumping bass from a hip hop beat emanated from Minnesota's clubhouse. It's a sound reserved only for victories — which means it was a sound not heard much around these parts in recent memory.

As Twins fans surely haven't forgotten, this team is coming off a 99-loss season, the second-worst loss total in team history. And when Minnesota opened the year with an 0-4 mark after a sweep by Baltimore and a series-opening loss to the Angels on Monday, fans panicked. A sense of "here we go again” rang across Twins Territory.

"You want to do well. I know these guys really want to move past last year,” said shortstop Jamey Carroll, who played a key role in Wednesday's win. "You start off 0-4 and it trickles back in as far as getting asked about it and you hear about it. I think guys didn't want to have that kind of start. … It was good to come off the off day and get a win.”

Perhaps the Twins' four-game skid was magnified by the fact that it came at the beginning of the season. Adding to that was the factor of last year's loss total. A four-game losing streak in July might not have elicited the same knee-jerk reactions, but one in early April certainly does.

"It's nice to get a win," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They say in the middle (of the season) you wouldn't even pay attention to it. We pay attention to losing streaks no matter when you're playing them. But to start a season and scuffle early, we're playing too many good teams right now to get too deep into a hole.”

Use whichever cliché you prefer. The Twins got the proverbial monkey off their backs; Minnesota now has its first win under its belt.

Whichever way you want to slice it, the Minnesota Twins are no longer winless.

Only two other Twins teams had started the season 0-4. Minnesota did so back in 1969 and 1981. Neither of those teams went 0-5, however, as both went on to win their fifth games of their respective seasons. In fact, the 1969 Twins reeled off seven wins after that 0-4 start and went on to win 97 games that season to advance to the postseason.

With Wednesday's win, the 2012 Twins avoided being the first team in franchise history to start 0-5. It might be just one win, but Minnesota's players no longer have to answer questions about their early-season losing streak.

"Any time you win, you can just try and come out and get the next one tomorrow,” said outfielder Josh Willingham, whose two-run homer gave the Twins' offense a lift. "We'll try and win the series tomorrow. It's good to get that first one under our belt.”

One down, plenty more games to go. But Wednesday's victory showed what the Twins players had preached even during their four-game losing streak: the offense is capable of scoring runs. Wednesday's six runs matched what Minnesota had scored in its previous four games combined. The nine hits were a season high.

The Twins scored the second-fewest runs (619) in the American League last season. Their team batting average of .247 in 2011 was good for 13th in the AL. Prior to Wednesday, Minnesota's hitters hadn't done much to reverse those trends.

But with seven different players getting hits Wednesday and six different players scoring runs, the Twins showed that perhaps their offense won't be as anemic as it was during its 0-4 start.

"These guys are going to score runs,” said Carl Pavano, Wednesday's starting pitcher. "You saw tonight. The second and third time through the order, they started figuring him out and started making better swings and started scoring runs, which is great. You want to see that. As we get comfortable as a team, it's going to come a lot quicker. It's fun to watch.”

Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.