Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peeking Ahead

Q: What is the most exciting part about the Twins fast start?
A: That it could be have just as easily gone exactly the other way.

Start with a west coast road trip to the 97-win Los Angeles Angels, followed by road games at the division rival's ballpark. Add in a brutal travel schedule that included flights from Florida to Minnesota to Los Angeles to Chicago and back to Minneapolis. It also didn't include a getaway day prior to Chicago, and then there was no break before the home opener.

It's conceivable that the Twins could've taken just one game in Anaheim and one game in Chicago, then laid an egg in the emotional and distracted home opener. That would have been a 2-6 start, and it still would've been hard to be too critical, given the other challenges. Instead they're 6-2 with two games coming up against the Red Sox and then....

Well, then is when it gets interesting, because the Twins play their next 18 games versus their division. KC and Cleveland come to the new ballpark, then the Twins travel to Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland, before coming back to face Detroit, Baltimore and finally a pair of game versus the White Sox. Unless you have a high opinion of the Tigers (and I don't) that stretch looks mighty inviting.

Things get tough again in mid-May. The Twins travel to Yankee Stadium, to Toronto, and then to Boston. They come home to face the Brewers and then then Yankees again. So by May 27th, the Twins are completely done with the Yankees and Red Sox and only have three games left against the Angels, and those are at home.

Not that there aren't other challenges. The interleague schedule includes a visit to Philadelphia and Milwaukee, as well as a home series against the Braves and Rockies. The Twins also have eight games against that other AL East team, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. And if the Mariners and Rangers fufill the promise that many see in them, the Twins will need to navigate through 20 games with those two teams.

But still, by the end of May, the Twins will be almost done with last year's American League playoff teams. They'll have had a chance to put some distance between themselves and most of the rest of the division. And now, because of a hot start, they get to start that stretch already near the top of the division.


Jack Ungerleider said...

I think if they had come off the road trip 3-4 most people would have seen that as a successful opening trip. To go 5-2 was a two game bonus. (And we all know how big a 2 game bonus might be at the end of the season. :-)

Andy said...

What is the deal with this year's unbalanced schedule? I noticed Twins only play the Red Sox 5 total games, and the Yankees 6 total games, while they play the Blue Jays and Rays 8 games each.

I haven't examined the whole schedule, but as you mentioned they play the Rangers and Mariners 20 times total, yet only meet the Angels for 7 games.

In the past I had always remembered the Twins playing 19 games each versus divisional rivals, and 7 games each against teh AL East teams, and 9 or so games each against AL West teams. In any event, they definitely played the same number of games versus each team in the same division.

Is something way different this year, or am I just out of the loop??