When Brian Roberts' home run touched down well beyond the right field fence at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday night, the Twins found themselves tied for first place in the American League Central division with the South Siders. Each team is 63-49. So starting tonight, the Twins and White Sox will begin a 50 game schedule that will include nine games between the two teams.
So, how big are these games? Based on what happened in 2006, 2008 and 2009, we all know that anything can happen at the end of an AL Central season. So if one of the teams sweep this three game series, the season is not over, by any means. I think as a Twins fan, it would be wonderful to win two out of the three games. To sweep the White Sox in Chicago would be something that not even the most optimistic of Twins fans should expect. With three more games in Target Field against the White Sox one one week, the teams will have a chance to even things out again.
But to say that these games mean nothing would also be underplaying their significance. Think about this: Since 2002, the team that won the season series between these two teams ended the season with the better record. If we believe that the Tigers are all but eliminated (which is probably an assumption we shouldn't make quite yet), the team with the better record between the White Sox and Twins should be the division winner.
Let's briefly look back:
- In 2002, the Twins won the season series over the White Sox 11-8. The Twins won the AL Central Division title with the White Sox finishing second.
- In 2003, the Twins won the season series over the White Sox 10-9. The Twins won the AL Central Division title with the White Sox finishing second.
- In 2004, the Twins won the season series over the White Sox 10-9. The Twins won the AL Central Division title with the White Sox finishing second.
- In 2005, the White Sox won the season series over the Twins 11-7. The White Sox won the AL Central Division title with the Twins finishing in third place. The White Sox went on to win the World Series.
- In 2006, the Twisn won the season series over the White Sox 10-9. The Twins won the AL Central Division title with the White Sox finishing in third place.
- In 2007, the Twins and White Sox split the 18 games they played. It marked the one season the neither team won the division. The Twins finished in third place. The White Sox finished in fourth.
- In 2008, the Twins won the series 10-8. Of course, you may recall that the White Sox won Game 163 (because it was played in Chicago??) behind a great John Danks performance and a long, solo home run off the bat of former White Sox and current Twins DH Jim Thome. This is the one year in this set where the team that won the season series did not finish ahead of the other.
- In 2009, the Twins won the season series over the White Sox 12-6. The Twins won the AL Central Division title thanks to a second straight Game 163 (this time a win over the Tigers). The White Sox finished in third place.
So, of the seven seasons in which a team won the season series, that team won the division title. For Twins fans, that is a good thing since they have won the season series five times in the last eight years. The White Sox have won the division twice. (Cleveland, behind CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona, won the AL Central in 2007, the season that the Twins and White Sox split their 18 games played.)
Currently, the Twins lead this season's series 6-3.However, the teams have three games in Chicago this week, three games at Target Field next week, and three more games in Chicago in mid-September. A lot can happen. These are two really good teams, and they play a lot of very entertaining games.
This season is now 112 games old. It comes down to essentially a 50 game season for the Twins and the White Sox. Of those 50 games, nine of them are against each other. What happens in those nine game is obviously very important and matters in the AL Central race, but fans need to remember that the other 41 games matter a lot too.
If nothing else, it should be a ton of fun to follow these two teams the rest of the year. Are you not entertained?
- Be sure to listen to John on The Power Trip around 7:20 on Tuesday morning on KFAN and KFAN.com.
- Seth hosted the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast on Monday night. He was joined by guest co-host Cody Christie of the Nodak Twins Fan blog. The shows guest was JJ Stankevitz, the White Sox writer for Examiner.com.
- Nick wrote, "Let the Stretch Run Begin."
- John discussed how satisfying the Twins series win over Cleveland on Sunday.
- Seth will host Twins Minor League Weekly tonight at 10:00 central time. With co-host Travis Aune traveling, Seth will attempt to bring in a few guests to talk about the Twins minor league affiliates and prospects.