Yes, similarities to 2003 abound, but vastly superior Detroit and Cleveland are the clubs to catch this time, not a young K.C. team.
The Twins were in third place and 7½ games behind the front-running Kansas City Royals at the 2003 All-Star break. On the last day of the midsummer respite, General Manager Terry Ryan exchanged outfielders with Toronto: Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart.
The local media and sporting public had a fondness for Kielty's potential and considered this to be a mistake. The trade was widely panned, including on page 3 of the Star Tribune sports section, where the headline above a column blared:
"Trading Kielty was mistake for Twins."
The information also was offered that Kirby Puckett once had said the switch-hitting Kielty could be the "next Mickey Mantle."
Four years later, he rates closer to Downtown Darrell Brown than the Mick when it comes to great switch-hitting outfielders.
Kielty is an oft-injured journeyman now with Oakland. The A's most-used outfielder this season has been none other than Stewart, signed for 2007 after 3½ years with the Twins that included significant time on the disabled list.
Yet, back in 2003, Stewart became the catalyst for a 46-23 post-All-Star surge that carried the Twins to a four-game margin over the White Sox and seven games over the Royals in the AL Central.
That comeback started with a four-game sweep of the A's. On Sunday, the Twins had an encore, finishing a four-game sweep of Oakland by rallying for a 4-3 victory.
Later, there were suggestions from inside the home clubhouse including from Torii Hunter that beating the A's four in a row was providing the same tingly feeling as four years earlier.
One difference: The Twins were six games in arrears of a young Kansas City team when they concluded that A's sweep on July 20, 2003. The Royals then would wake one morning, realize they weren't that good, go 31-37 down the stretch and fall into an abyss in which they remain.
This time, vanquishing the A's has left the Twins six games removed from Detroit and 5½ from Cleveland in the AL Central.
Detroit is a World Series team that has upgraded, and Cleveland's nucleus has been around long enough that it should no longer have the doubts it showed in September 2005.
So, there's a mountain to climb here, as opposed to the molehill of '03, but so what? Four-game sweeps demand joyous thoughts, particularly with the chance to draw closer when the first-place Tigers arrive in the Dome on Tuesday.
The Twins had chances early Sunday to make this a no-sweat conclusion to the sweep. The requirement was a big hit from Justin Morneau, but he made the last out in the first and third innings and left five base runners.
Fortunately, you can't keep a good MVP down, and he smashed a home run off Santiago Casilla, Oakland's recent bullpen ace, for a 3-3 tie in the eighth.
The tie remained when Luis Castillo opened the bottom of the ninth. This was a day game after a night game, a formula that often causes the gimpy second baseman to sit.
"I didn't give him a choice," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I had Torii out with a sore hamstring. I wanted to get as many guys in there as I could."
As usual, Castillo looked as if he were a candidate for double amputation above the knees, and then he opened the ninth with a drive into the left-center field gap.
|Boston - A. Ranaudo||6:05 PM|
|Pittsburgh - C. Morton|
|Toronto - D. Hutchison||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - U. Jimenez|
|Washington - T. Roark||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - A. Harang|
|Miami - N. Eovaldi||6:10 PM|
|NY Mets - B. Colon|
|NY Yankees - M. Pineda||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi|
|Cincinnati - J. Cueto||7:05 PM|
|Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta|
|Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - L. Hendriks|
|Cleveland - C. Kluber||7:10 PM|
|Houston - N. Tropeano|
|Detroit - R. Porcello||7:10 PM|
|Minnesota - R. Nolasco|
|Milwaukee - W. Peralta||7:15 PM|
|St. Louis - L. Lynn|
|Los Angeles - D. Haren||7:40 PM|
|Colorado - T. Matzek|
|San Francisco - J. Peavy||8:40 PM|
|Arizona - J. Collmenter|
|Seattle - R. Elias||9:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Rasmus|
|Texas - N. Tepesch||9:05 PM|
|Oakland - S. Kazmir|
|Philadelphia - A. Burnett||9:10 PM|
|San Diego - I. Kennedy|
|Tampa Bay||9/18/14 7:25 PM|
|San Diego||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Dallas||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Washington||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Houston||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Minnesota||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Tennessee||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Indianapolis||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Oakland||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||9/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Denver||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Kansas City||9/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Chicago||9/22/14 7:30 PM|
|(5) Auburn||9/18/14 6:30 PM|
|(20) Kansas State|
|Connecticut||9/19/14 7:00 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Troy||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Georgia Tech||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Eastern Mich||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|(11) Michigan State|
|Iowa||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Bowling Green||9/20/14 11:00 AM|
|Maryland||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Tulane||9/20/14 11:30 AM|
|Hawaii||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||9/20/14 1:00 PM|
|North Carolina||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Army||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Virginia||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|(6) Texas A&M||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Rutgers||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Central Mich||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Utah||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Florida||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Louisville||9/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Indiana||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Texas State||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Massachusetts||9/20/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia State||9/20/14 5:00 PM|
|Appalachian St||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miss State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Utah State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Miami-Ohio||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Ball State||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|(14) So Carolina||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|Ga Southern||9/20/14 6:30 PM|
|UNLV||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(22) Clemson||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|Miami-Florida||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico||9/20/14 7:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|California||9/20/14 9:00 PM|
|Louisiana||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|(2) Oregon||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|San Diego St||9/20/14 9:30 PM|
|Toronto||9/19/14 9:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/20/14 6:00 PM|
|Calgary||9/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Ottawa||9/21/14 3:00 PM|
Poll: How do you feel about the decision to reinstate Adrian Peterson?