2006: Twins make a Statement

September 10, 2006

Take it away, LEN3 (9/11/06)

The Twins trounced the Tigers 12-1 on Sunday, a victory that might signal change is coming in AL Central leadership.

It’s not just because the Twins took three of four from Detroit and now sit only two games behind them in the division race with 20 games remaining. Oh no. The path of destruction spans farther than that, including the two series they won over Chicago last month, as well as the series they won in Detroit.

One of those teams is the defending World Series champion. The other once was 40 games over .500 and was in first place by 10 games last month.

“We’ve come out and let them know we’re not a walkover,” infielder Nick Punto said. “In April and May, they thought we were walkovers. Now they know we’re not.”

The Twins also are 24-11 in the division since the All-Star break, winning nine of 11 series. Add it all up and it makes a strong case as to who’s the best team in the division.

The standings don’t reflect that – but that might change.

Two games back. One game back in the loss column.

“That’s nothing,” Twins outfielder Jason Tyner said of the deficit. “Had we not won three out of four this series, maybe it would not be a realistic goal. Now that we have closed the gap, it’s definitely a reasonable goal.”

The Twins finished off the Tigers on Sunday with an offense that included 15 hits, four sacrifice flies, three triples and two stolen bases. Johan Santana held his grip on the Cy Young award, limiting the Tigers to two hits over 6- 1/3 innings with two walks and 11 strikeouts. Santana (18-5) is the major’s first 18-game winner.

Even more good news for the Twins:

It was cold and dreary outside on Sunday, but inside the Dome, the outlook was bright. The Twins hammered the Tigers. Lefthander Francisco Liriano returned from his rehab stint announcing that his elbow was 100 percent. And the Twins – plus many among the announced crowd of 40,158 – peeked at the scoreboard often. Fans cheered when the White Sox lost to Cleveland to fall 1- 1/2 games behind the Twins in the wild card race.

Box

What a fun season 2006 was. The Twins, of course, went 13-7 the rest of the way and clinched the AL Central on the last day of the season.

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