Twins fans may be forgiven if they're scratching their heads after this weekend's sweep of the now-playing-like-they-usually-do Kansas City Royals. After all, since when did this dude Alexi Casilla start getting hits and winning games?
Casilla, never known for his hot bat, smacked four hits and two RBI on Saturday's game, but in the series in general he was hot. He went 8/15 with at least one hit in every game, walked six times and didn't strike out once. In the merry month of May, Casilla's hitting a sweet .288/.351/.424. Which means that Gardenhire's feeling as if Alexi's going to be his second baseman once Nishioka returns.[jump]
A four game sweep means lots of silver linings to the great grey thunderhead that is the Twins 2011 season thus far. Aside from Casilla, the Twins bats came alive, as they outscored the Royals by a margin of 26-6 over four games.
But 26-6 also means that the Twins pitching came through in the clutch. Swarzak, Pavano, Blackburn, and Duensing all threw decent games. And for once, an injury doesn't seem pressing: Blackburn left Saturday's game after only 80 pitches due to a stiffness in his back, but it's been reported that he will probably make his next start.
And the mustachioed superhurler of 2010, Carl Pavano, finally nailed down his 100th win with a complete game, 2 earned run gem on Friday night. Wonderful!
The Twins' season has so dismal for so long that Twins Township is taking this sweep in stride. Very few people are likening this sweep to the turnaround of '06 (which seems so long ago, doesn't it?) True, the Strib's Joe Christesen wrote a postgame blog entry after game four and titled it "Twins can gain more ground in Cleveland."
Yes, this is technically true, but it's a claim that every other team can make between the Twins and the Tribe. For instance, the Tigers are but 2.5 games out; Chicago's 7 games behind the freefalling Indians.
Still, even though everyone's writing off the Twins, and I'm going to say they won't make it either, as one of the press box boys said to me the other day: "I've been watching the game long enough to know you can never count anyone out." Maybe. For now, the Twins need to take it one game at a time. After all, they didn't sweep the Tigers, they swept the Royals.