The Twins got off to a rough start, scoring the second-fewest runs in the American League (97) and compiling the highest ERA (6.28). This combination was most noticeable when the club was swept by the White Sox and the Tigers late in the month, outscored by a 56-7 margin.
Francisco Liriano won his much-anticipated debut as a starter on May 19 against Milwaukee. Liriano went 3-0 in the month and gave up one run in his first 16 innings as a starter. The offense improved in May, scoring the fourth-most runs in the AL (149).
The Twins won 16 of their last 17 games in June, due in large part to the efforts of their top three starters: Johan Santana (5-0, 1.05 ERA), Brad Radke (3-1, 2.09 ERA) and Liriano (4-1, 2.31 ERA). Justin Morneau hit 10 homers and drove in 29 runs, while Joe Mauer hit .452 to pace the offense.
The offense hit an AL-best .316, with Morneau's eight homers and .410 average leading the way. Liriano went 4-1 with a 1.51 ERA as the Twins finished with the second-best ERA in the AL (3.94). The Twins swept the White Sox from July 24-26 to move into a tie for second place in the AL Central.
The Twins suffered a tough loss when Liriano injured his elbow on Aug. 7 against Detroit. In Liriano's absence, Santana started Cy Young talk by going 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA. The rest of the staff picked up the slack as well, once again finishing the month with the second-best ERA in the AL (3.64).
The Twins didn't lose more than two games in a row, and they won every series in September except their first of the month against the Yankees. The Twins outscored the Tigers, 25-14, as they took three of four games from the Tigers at the Metrodome from Sept. 7-10. On Oct. 1, the Twins won their final regular-season game and celebrated a Tigers loss that handed Minnesota the AL Central title.
Ryan Crawford is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.