Last year, Minnesota sat 20 games below .500 after a June 1 loss before rattling off 15 victories in 17 contests, erasing 10 games off their deficit in the American League Central.
This time around, Ron Gardenhire's club has rolled off nine wins in 11 games since sinking to 15-32 on May 27. Saturday's 11-3 triumph against the Cubs gave the Twins their fourth consecutive series win.
"I think everybody's more confident," outfielder Josh Willingham said. "I don't think we ever get down or feel like we're out of a game when we get down a few runs early. Sometimes we're not able to come back from it. But that's the mark of a good team when you can battle back and answer them."
On Sunday at Target Field, the Twins will square off against Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster (1-3, 2.59 ERA), who finally earned his first victory of the season on Tuesday. It's not that the veteran starter wasn't deserving of a win in his previous nine outings. After all, Dempster submitted a quality start in his first five appearances this season, but left each without a victory.
Dempster finally benefited from some run support in his latest outing, however, in which the Cubs beat Milwaukee, 10-0.
"This was a big win for us -- we needed that," Dempster said after his club snapped an 11-game road losing streak.
The Cubs' road woes have returned in Minnesota, where Chicago blew a ninth-inning lead in Friday's 8-7 loss and got pounded in Saturday's defeat. That's just the way the Twins have been rolling lately.
"It's all about figuring out a way to win," Gardenhire said. "Whether you do it at the end of the ballgame or beginning of the ballgame, it's finding ways to win. People having good at-bats, getting on, so those [middle-of-the-order] guys can drive them in, and that's what we've seen. It's about getting on base and having quality at-bats late in the ballgame.
"We've been doing a lot better at that."
Cubs: Soto to start rehab assignment
The Cubs expect catcher Geovany Soto, recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, to begin a Minor League rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa. Soto last played May 16 before being sidelined with a tear in the meniscus in his left knee.
Twins: Lefty looks to continue string of quality starts
Francisco Liriano will toe the rubber for the Twins in Sunday's series finale. The southpaw has recorded back-to-back quality starts since returning to the club's rotation after a stint in the bullpen.
Liriano (1-6, 6.46) has allowed just one run on seven hits in his last two starts, with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings.
"He's throwing the ball over the plate, and that's the bottom line," Gardenhire said after Liriano's last outing. "You throw it over, you work ahead in the count. You see his stuff, even when he got behind. He was two-seaming the heck out of it, and it was just diving; those guys were swinging and missing. Once he got in some favorable counts, the slider was just disappearing. I think you could ask those guys on the other side; that was some nasty stuff. That's what we hope to continue to have. That gives us an opportunity to win baseball games."
With two home runs Friday, Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano became the 86th player in Major League history to reach 350 career homers.
Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-4 on Saturday, and he's now hitting .370 (10-for-27) with four homers and nine RBIs in seven June games.