Twins Recap: April Brings Wins

April is usually a month where teams try to find their legs. The Twins, however, got out to a sprinting start to the 2010 season, thanks to some great pitching, and timely hitting. Francisco Liriano found his old form, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are killing the ball, and the bullpen has been lights out.

The wins came in bunches for the Minnesota Twins in April, as the team got out to a one game lead over the Detroit Tigers. The team received excellent pitching from their bullpen, and 60 percent of the rotation was on point all month long. Though questions still remain, 15-8 is a much better start than the 11-11 start they got last April.

There were plenty of firsts in April, as the team christened their beautiful new outdoor park. Although many were worried about the weather, it did not play much of a problem, as April was unseasonably warm. After dropping the season opener in Los Angeles, the Twins rattled off five straight wins, taking the Division lead, and never looked back.

One thing the Twins showed in April was consistency, as they lost back-to-back games only once. Those two losses came at the end of the month during the Detroit series, the only series they would lose all month. The team saw great success on Fridays and Saturdays, going a combined 7-0 in those contests, outscoring their opponents 48-25.

The biggest story of the month was the emergence of Francisco Liriano as the staff ace, a far cry from what was expected from him out of Spring Training. The left-hander went 3-0 in his four starts, notching s 0.93 earned run average, and led the team with 27 strikeouts. With Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn struggling throughout the month, Liriano's comeback was just what the Twins needed.

Starters Carl Pavano and Kevin Slowey also were steady for the Twins in April, as the two right-handers both had earned run averages under 4.00. Going 6-4 between them, they combined to walk only 12 batters in 60.0 innings of work, and struck out 47. They will be key if the Twins hope to keep their slim lead in the American League Central.

Coming off an MVP campaign in 2009, Joe Mauer has been hot to start the season, batting .345 in April. The backstop is suffering from a sore heel, but that has not slowed him down. Though his power numbers are down from a year ago, he is on pace for a 200 hit season, and leads the team in doubles.

Fellow M&M Boy Justin Morneau has been exactly what the doctor ordered early on, as he leads the team in home runs, walks, batting average, and runs. Michael Cuddyer leads the team in runs batted in, and hit over .300 for the month. New Twins Second Baseman Orlando Hudson was another Twins regular to bat over .300 in April, and is a serious upgrade from the players who manned the position in 2009.

Looked at as a weak spot due to the loss of Closer Joe Nathan before the season began, the bullpen has been solidified by some familiar names, and Jon Rauch has been lights out as the team's Closer. Matt Guerrier, Brian Duensing, Ron Mahay, and Rauch all have earned run averages under 2.00, and it has helped the team basically play six innings games all month.

What We've Seen

  • Jim Thome still has some power left in his bat, and is averaging a home run every 10 at-bats through April. Despite the limited at-bats, Thome is third on the team in slugging percentage, as seven of his 11 hits have gone for extra-bases.
  • Luke Hughes blasted his first Major League home run, and looked good in two April appearances. He is a good guy to have on your bench, and can play a number of positions.
  • Ron Mahay did not allow an earned run after being called up from Fort Myers. In seven appearances, the left-hander has allowed only four hits through 6.2 innings of work, and has struck out eight.
  • The team hit 23 home runs in 23 April games.
  • Matt Guerrier may be the most underrated relief pitcher in the American League. His April stats: 11G, 0.73ERA, 12.1IP, .175BAA.
  • The team committed only four errors all month.