Coming off four straight 90-loss seasons the Twins were projected to finish in last place by nearly everyone, myself included, but instead they have the second-best record in the American League at 28-18 after finishing off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox today.
Since a brutal opening week of the season in which they went 1-6 and were outscored by 33 runs the Twins are 27-12 with a run differential of plus-54 and they’ve won 23 of their last 32 games. And first-year manager Paul Molitor has them tied for first place in the American League Central, which seems almost impossible to believe after watching the past four seasons.
I wrote a lengthy article on my Twins-centric personal blog about how they’ve been winning so far, but the short version is great hitting with runners in scoring position, Glen Perkins being perfect in the closer role, and the starting rotation going from historically inept to merely sort of bad. If you want the long version, there are 1,200 more words here. As a lifelong Twins fan I have no idea how long it’ll continue, but whatever. Beats the hell out of looking ahead to next year’s draft already, no matter what.
Baltimore designated for assignment Alejandro De Aza, dropping the 31-year-old outfielder from the 40-man roster after he hit just .214 with three homers and a .636 OPS in 30 games.
De Aza played very well for the Orioles down the stretch last season after they acquired him from the White Sox and got $5 million to reprise that role this season, but combined from 2012-2014 he hit .266 with a .730 OPS in 426 games.
That’s enough offense to be useful when paired with good corner outfield defense, but the Orioles have decided to go with the Travis Snider, Delmon Young, and David Lough trio instead.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Tigers have cleared Justin Verlander to begin a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from the triceps injury that’s sidelined him since spring training.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Verlander will start Sunday at Triple-A and is expected to throw 80-85 pitches. Verlander previously threw a simulated game Tuesday, so his arm strength is nearly built up enough to take on a full workload.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus indicated that the team will evaluate Verlander’s performance Sunday before determining if he’ll make a second rehab start, which means if things go well he could be back in Detroit’s rotation next week.