The Minnesota Twins have just matched their season best with a three-game winning streak after their two-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox moved the Twins from the basement of the AL Central. Now they find themselves only 1.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers, their next opponent when the team makes its return to Target Field next week.

Believe it or not, as bad as the Twins have been so far this year, there is hope.

Looking back a mere 20 years ago to 1991, the last time the Twins won the World Series, there are some similarities to the 2011 Twins.

The 1991 Twins started the season 4-10, finding themselves in seventh, and last, place in the AL West. They finished the month at 9-11, but still looking up at five teams in the division. By the end of May, they would only go 14-14 and be stuck in fifth place.

When the calendar turned to June, something clicked and the Twins pulled off the improbable: a franchise record 15-game winning streak. The run is even more improbable by today’s standards since it included a three-game sweep of the Yankees at the Metrodome.

On June 16th, after completing a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Twins found themselves perched atop the division with a half-game lead, leapfrogging four teams in the process and finishing June with a 22-6 record.

Incredibly, the Twins would never relinquish their hold on first place, winning the division by eight games. 

The Twins starting rotations between 1991 and 2011 also have a similar look. Each opened the season with two left-handed and three right-handed starters. 

In June 1991, the Twins were led by a 36 year-old veteran pitcher, Jack Morris who would win six starts that month on his way to an 18-12 record.

Morris was the ace of the staff, but another young right-hander would lead the team in victories. That season Scott Erickson would go 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA.

In 2011, the Twins have 35 year-old Carl Pavano anchoring their pitching staff. Last season Pavano led the Twins with a 17-11 record and a 3.75 ERA. So far this season he is 2-3 with a 5.84 ERA. Pavano will find his stride and put up similar numbers to last season.  

The 2011 Twins also have their own right-handed starter by the name of Scott. 

After having to battle his way into the starting rotation as the fifth starter, Scott Baker now finds himself with a 2-2 record and a 2.97 ERA, second best in the rotation to Brian Duensing’s 2.91 ERA.

Over his last four starts Baker is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 0.953 WHIP, with 25 strikeouts and only four walks. He currently leads the Twins starters with 34 strikeouts.

There may be another similarity that today’s Twins fans hopes does not hold true for the remainder of the season.

In 1991, the Twins starting rotation included left-hander Allan Anderson. During their 15-game winning streak, Anderson would win three starts, but for the season, he would only win five games and post the starting staff’s highest ERA at 4.96.

Currently, left-hander Francisco Liriano, whose no-hitter against the White Sox started the current three-game winning streak, also owns the worst ERA of any starter at 6.61.

The starting rotation in 1991 included right-hander Kevin Tapani who led the rotation with a 2.99 ERA while going 16-9 in 34 starts.

In 1991 Morris, Erickson and Tapani would combine to go 54-29 with a 3.23 ERA.

If Liriano can turn around his slow start and provide some consistency, and Duensing, who has pitched four quality starts in his five appearances, continues to contribute, the 2011 Twins rotation appears to have as much talent to match that of 1991.

Here’s hoping that history repeats itself at some point in 2011 to propel the Twins to another first place finish on their way to another World Series championship.

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