MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are 24-12 after 36 games of the season, and look like the team to beat in the American League Central. As my colleague Judd Zulgad pointed out this week, the “Murderer’s Row” 1927 Yankees held the same record at this point in the season.
This year’s Twins team has some remarkable stats as a club, and even more when you put the microscope to certain individuals.
*20 in a row
Jake Odorizzi is dealing. The Twins righty pitched 7 shutout innings Friday against the Tigers. He gave up 1 hit. He handed out 0 walks and of course, 0 earned runs.
In his past 5 starts, Odorizzi has only permitted 3 earned runs to score in 31 1/3 innings. That’s a 0.86 ERA. He has a 30:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that span.
The second batter of Friday’s game hit a double to the outfield. The third batter, Nicholas Castellanos, hit a ball to the wall in left-center field, but Byron Buxton raced over to track it down with a jumping catch against the fence. Then Odorizzi and the Twins retired the next 19 Tigers hitters in order, before Odorizzi handed the keys over the Twins’ bullpen.
One out, then one hit, then 20 Tigers retired right in a row.
*20K and 12K more
The Twins this week announced a “flash sale” of $5 tickets to get into the home run porch and grand stand seats for all remaining home games. The 2-day sale sold out those 20,000 seats, the team announced. So they opened up another 12,000 tickets to get into the ballpark under the same deal. Those sold out, too.
I think it’s a great move to try to get more bodies in the ballpark, not just because of the chance to buy concessions. But because some percentage of those fans who got in at a lower cost develop a stronger connection to the club that’s in first place, hitting home runs, and mowing through American League lineups seemingly at will. It looks like a good summer to be a Twins fan.
*Jorge Polanco is doing his A-Rod impression.
“Polo,” as some people have begun to call him, was 1-for-4 with a walk and 3 RBIs on Friday. One of his outs was a line drive into the shortstop’s glove. He’s been a hitting machine from the left side of the plate this season.
Minnesota’s shortstop entered Friday hitting .344/.412/.649, with a very good .439 Weighted On-Base Average to show for it. He has 7 homers and 17 RBIs on the season.
Remember how good Alex Rodriguez was for the Rangers, between stops with the Mariners and Yankees? Rodriguez hit .305/.395/.615 with Texas from 2001-03.
A-Rod’s best offensive season with the Yankees: .314/.422/.645 (.445 wOBA).
*Mitch Garver can’t be stopped.
We’ve jokingly started referring to the Twins’ catcher as Mitch “Barry Bonds” Garver.
It’s a bit of a stretch, but not enough of a stretch to qualify as one of those ironic nicknames. Garver drew 3 more walks Friday and hit a second-deck home run while catching Odorizzi’s excellent one-hitter-through-7-innings. For the year, Garver is now mashing .364/.440/.788, and has been the best hitter in a great lineup.
He’s got great balance, power and he’s lifting balls out of the park to his pull side. Looks like a good recipe for success.
Barry Bonds, you’ll remember, is one of the best hitters that every played the game. His career stats finished at .298/.444/.607 (assuming that he doesn’t make a comeback after age 54).
*3 of 4 shutouts
The Twins pitched another combined shutout Friday night, their fifth of the season and third in four nights.
After a non-competitive series sweep against the Blue Jays, the Twins had another game that appeared to be in hand early. The run that their starting pitchers have been on is a surprising and overwhelming positive for Minnesota.
So far only one of their 5 starters has faltered for an extended period, and four great starters is enough to make a summer fun.