Do I hear 10 wins in a row?! Yes, yes I do!
And just like that, in what seems like a blink of an eye, the Twins stand at 45-35, just 10 games behind Detroit for the division lead and 7.5 games behind the White Sox for the wildcard lead.
Francisco Liriano has set the bar pretty high for himself with in his first half season, but he had perhaps the best performance of his young career on Sunday, as he blanked the Brew Crew for 8 innings, giving up only 3 hits and striking out a career-high 12 in the Twins 8-0 victory. This brings his ERA down to a microscopic 1.99, and now that he has enough innings to qualify, this is the best in the Majors. Let's look at some lists here as far as AL pitching goes:
AL ERA Leaders
1) Francisco Liriano - MIN - 1.99
2) Johan Santana - MIN - 2.59
3) John Lackey - ANA - 3.12
4) Jeremy Bonderman - DET - 3.13
5) Nate Robertson - DET - 3.14
AL Strikeout Leaders
1) Johan Santana - MIN - 124
2) Scott Kazmir - TB - 108
3) Jeremy Bonderman - DET - 107
4) Mike Mussina - NYY - 104
5) Curt Schilling - BOS - 102
6) Francisco Liriano - MIN - 94
(Keep in mind Liriano has pitched at least about 20 innings less than anyone else on the list)
AL K/9 Leaders
1) Francisco Liriano - MIN - 10.40
2) Scott Kazmir - TB - 9.69
3) Johan Santana - MIN - 9.43
4) Jeremy Bonderman - DET - 8.68
5) Felix Hernandez - SEA - 8.54
Of course, he also leads the League in Opponents SLG and is up there in lots of other categories, so I could go on, but I think you get the point. Oh yeah, and he's 22. VOTE FOR LIRIANO!
As for the team in July, how about having the AL Player of the Month (Joe Mauer), the AL Pitcher of the Month (Johan Santana), and the AL Rookie of the Month (Francisco Liriano). Not bad for a team that's 10 games back.
The Twins now travel to Kansas City to start a 3-game set with the Royals and All-Star Mike Redman (*snicker*). In the first game, we'll have the aforementioned Johan Santana (9-4, 2.59) taking on Scott Elarton (3-9, 5.13). The Sox will take on Baltimore and the Tigers will travel to Oakland, so on paper the Twins have the best matchup, let's just hope they can continue this hot streak.
And for the record, the Twins finish with a 16-2 record in interleague play. That's a nice little boost!