Twins see results riding pitchers' positive momentum
SEATTLE -- The numbers spell it out pretty clearly.
In the Twins' first seven games, starting pitchers went 1-5 with a 6.87 ERA, having given up 28 earned runs in 36 2/3 innings. The team went 1-6. In the next eight games prior to Friday night's series opener against the Mariners at Safeco Field, Minnesota starters had gone 4-2 with a 3.23 ERA (17 earned runs in 47 1/3 innings pitched). The team went 5-3.
It's a small sample size, but the theory behind it is proven over the largest sample size known to anyone involved in baseball.
"Starting pitching is everything," Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. "They get in a groove, these guys get going, and it saves our bullpen. If you can get that quality start to keep you close in the game, give you a chance to win every start, I promise you, you're going to win most of those games."
The Twins are trying to rebound from a 70-92 season, and new manager Paul Molitor said getting five starters to feed off one another and keep momentum going has been a major goal in turning things around.
"We all know that one of the big keys that we're holding up to try to get better is improving our starting pitchers' numbers," Molitor said. "It's an area where if you are at or near the bottom of your league, it's not going to bode well for how your team is going to eventually do. And we've had to suffer through that here for a while, and we're hoping that we get the right people out there to kind of reverse that a little bit."
Molitor said he was very pleased with the way his starters threw the ball in Spring Training, and while he admitted that spring performance isn't necessarily the best predictor of regular-season effectiveness, he said the first seven games should be an anomaly for his staff.
"These guys are more than capable," Molitor said. "I think getting a few wins has eased some of the pressure of any one guy going out there feeling like he has to do something. We've had good performances from a bunch of those guys to this point. It just didn't start the first week of the season. So hopefully it's a good trend for us."