The 88-58 Minnesota Twins are just a half game out of the best record in baseball. How did they get there? By crushing everyone in their way ever since the All-Star Break, and by not letting pesky little season-ending injuries get them down.
After completing the three-game sweep of the dwindling Chicago White Sox Thursday night (yay!) polishing off the season mark against their AL Central foes at 13-5, the Twins will welcome the Oakland Athletics to Target Field this weekend. With a near-untouchable nine-game lead, their magic number is eight with just 16 games left to play.
Home field advantage over the first two rounds of the playoffs and the league's best record is within reach for a team who was once thought of as the scrappy "small ball" one-round-wonder piranhas.
No Game 163 this year, fellas.
In fact, thanks to a new-found power, above-average pitching, random rookies, a huge payroll and maybe even a little luck, they've put themselves in position to don the best record in all of baseball by season's end. Wouldn't that be something.
Given that the Twins have the highest at-home mark in the game at 48-23, home field advantage would be terrific. Still, they'll enter the postseason as the underdog. In five playoff appearances since 2002, including one trip to the ALCS, they've won exactly three games. Let's hope that crap is history.
Speaking of the New York Yankees (88-58) and Tampa Bay Rays (88-57), those two teams will face each other four more times next week, deciding who will win the AL East title and who will punch their playoff ticket as the Wild Card. Which team would you rather see the Twins face in the first round?
In your opinion, who has been the most influential player on the team? The biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Share your thoughts in the comments or email me with any other questions, love letters, hate mail, etc.
Nick Blackburn will face left-hander Brett Anderson at 7:10pm tonight.