With the American League Central all wrapped up, the Twins will turn their attention to the task of securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
I've heard all kinds of talk lately about how this Minnesota team isn't well enough equipped to make it out of the ALDS. They're just not as talented as the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays. They don't have a CC Sabathia or a David Price at their disposal. There's no Cliff Lee to throw out there once or twice in a short series.
So what? It's not like the Twins snuck into the postseason through the back door on the very last day of the season. They didn't need to play an extra ballgame to decide their fate; they are the first ones there. They've won 52 games out of the 77 played at Target Field this year. Guys like Danny Valencia are producing like All-Stars and the rotation is starting to pitch like well, a rotation: a nice revolving door without major injury or upheaval.
For now, they hold the best record in baseball at 92-60. They have the highest batting average of playoff contenders at .277, just ahead of the Texas Rangers. Their 3.74 ERA is second only to the Oakland Athletics in the AL and their .988 fielding percentage would be tops if not for the Yankees.
That all looks pretty incredible on paper, but that doesn't mean they don't have a care in the world. I don't know about you guys, but I was fairly certain that a club with the league's Cy Young winner, MVP and batting champ were more or less World Series bound a few years ago. Sadly, that didn't turn out quite as planned.
The Twins are 5-9 against the Yankees and Rays this season, including a crappy 2-6 at Target Field. Those numbers kind of suck, considering the fact that Nick Blackburn earned the two wins over New York this season. Also, the lack of playoff-pitching experience between Francisco Liriano and Brian Duensing is a little nerve-wracking. Can they, along with the rest of the team, rise to the occasion?
Speaking of postseason experience and the absence of Joe Nathan, Matt Capps has pitched in exactly zero playoff games. Clearly, that doesn't mean he won't be able to hold his own; it's just an observation.
Then there's Joe Mauer's knee, Jason Kubel's wrist, Orlando Hudson and Denard Span's shoulders, Jim Thome's entire body, and of course, Justin Morneau and his aching head.
What, if any, are your concerns about the post season?
Speaking of our Canadian Crusher, Jack from Very Well Then has an excellent idea on how to get Morneau back in the box: pray to the Patron Saint of Head Injuries, obviously.
The Twins will open a three-game series at Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers this weekend, with Liriano looking to bounce back from his first loss of the second half when he faces Justin Verlander at 6:05pm tonight. Can they take care of the Motor City Kitties or will Jim Leyland's crew play the spoiler?