Twins manager Ron Gardenhire couldn't have imagined it any better.

After a sub-par first half of the season, his team has played like a defending champion in the second half and sits at the doorstep of another divisional title.

Pitchers are making the necessary pitches, hitters are striking the ball with authority (Doug Mientkiewicz, Torii Hunter, in particular) and the team is returning to its typical lights-out defensive play.

Gardenhire's late season good times began with the victorious return of muscular left-hander Eric Milton, the team's top pitcher from a year ago.

Then there is the continued emergence of long reliever-turned starter Johan Santana and veteran Brad Radke at his best.

Like Santana, Radke has been there when it means the most. Last year, he carried the Twins through August and September, and with Santana, he's doing it again.


He's won seven of his last eight games, exhibiting the stuff the Twins had in mind when they signed him as their ace.

His straight change is particularly deadly.

Throwing it his way –; tantalizingly resembling a fast ball in everything but speed –; can be embarrassing to hitters. It left a solid White Sox lineup whistling in the wind a week ago.

Hopefully, they still can't wait.

Tim Grice

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