Twins show promise at the plate in opener

Published 2:20 am Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

It’s amazing what three wins and 60-degree weather can do.

Although my front door is 895 miles from Target Field, I could feel the buzz across social media on Monday about the Twins’ home opener. Photos of red and blue Twins hats and jerseys were posted on Instagram, and selfies in the front of the gates of Target Field were on Facebook.

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The tone was much different than a week prior when snow was still piling up on the bleachers and grass at 1 Twins Way, and it was yet to be seen whether Minnesota would show any improvement from their past three 90-loss seasons.

While the Twins lost their first two games of the season to the White Sox, once in 11 innings, they won three of their next four heading into their fourth season at Target Field.

The Twins lost their third consecutive home opener on Monday 8-3 to the Athletics in front of an announced crowd of 35,837, and the team’s starting pitcher once again got roughed up. The Twins have so far received no quality starts in seven games. The Twins have a revamped starting rotation led by newcomer Ricky Nolasco, but it’s no surprise the team already ranks among the worst in the MLB in earned run average (6.46) and batting average against (.298).

While the Twins’ pitchers stumbled out the gates, its offense has been a pleasant surprise to fans. Minnesota scored double-digit runs twice this season — in a 10-9 win against the White Sox and 10-7 win over Cleveland — and are the first major league ball club to do so. The Twins reached double figures just six times all last season en route to a 66-96 record but have given up the second-most runs in the league this year.

Still, despite their defensive and pitching woes, it’s nice to finally see the bats being swung well from the local nine.

The Twins have four players with batting averages above .370 and the good news is none of them are named Joe Mauer or Josh Willingham. Their time will come.

Kurt Suzuki, who took Mauer’s place behind home plate, is playing like the batting champion, too, leading the team with a .389 average in 18 at-bats. Trevor Plouffe, who has shown flashes of brilliance but has been too inconsistent to find a permanent place in Minneapolis, is batting .370 with the second-most RBIs on the team (7), and Chris Colabello, a minor league journeyman at age 30, is also batting .370 with a team-leading 11 RBIs and a home run.

Although the season is very young, the Twins are finally receiving some offensive support around its two best hitters: Mauer and Willingham.

I’m a fair weather Twins fan. I rode the team’s amazing decade of winning six division titles in 10 years with pomp and circumstance and have all but denounced them since their fall from grace.

I actually scrambled to find a TV in the south on Monday that could tune in FSN North.

It’s amazing what three wins and 60-degree weather can do.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.