The Twins started the season with back-to-back one-run losses, part of a start to the season that saw them go 4-8, including 0-3 in one-run games.
The offense couldn't score. The bullpen was a mess. The only bright spot was the starting pitching, but even that seemed questionable enough to make you wonder if just 12 games into the season the team would ever be on the right side of .500 again.
What followed, of course, was a remarkable stretch of about three weeks. The Twins have gone 14-3 over their last 17 games, and the most amazing stat within that stretch is this: 7 wins, 0 losses in one-run games. Five of those were either 1-0 or 2-1 games, nail biters in the truest sense of the word.
And the embodiment of that sense of adventure: relief pitcher Emilio Pagan, who Patrick Reusse and I talked about (among many other things) on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Pagan came over with Chris Paddack in the Taylor Rogers trade. Paddack has largely been OK in the rotation, delivering three nice starts before a clunker Sunday.
Rogers has been lights out for the Padres, converting 11 save tries and not giving up an earned run all season while allowing just four hits and a walk in 11 2⁄3 innings.
Pagan has been ... effective. But it has been more the Eddie Guardado school of closing, with baserunners and daring escapes, than it has been smooth sailing.
Consider this: Pagan has pitched six times during the Twins' 14-3 burst. All six appearances came in one-run wins. He has allowed 13 baserunners during those 5 2⁄3 innings ... and yet just one run.
In 8 2⁄3 innings this year, Pagan has thrown an astounding 191 pitches (about 22 per inning). Rogers, by the way, has pitched 11 2⁄3 innings and thrown 153 pitches (about 13 per inning).
Pagan had a 34-pitch, one-inning save against the White Sox on April 22 during which he gave up a hit and two walks and got the final out on a 3-2 called strike with the bases loaded.
On Friday, he again had a one-hit, two-walk ninth inning that ended on a full count, bases loaded strikeout.
And Sunday, Pagan again flirted with danger with a hit and walk allowed before getting the final out on a popup with runners on second and third.
Three one-run wins. Three near heart attacks.
That's been the Twins and Pagan during this amazing run.