Twins’ position: After more than a week of mind-boggling “what-ifs” and wild-card calculations it’s come to this simple equation: The Twins’ loss Friday coupled with the Angels and Astros victories means Minnesota is two games back of the Astros for the final wild card spot with two games to play. Even if the Twins win Saturday and Sunday, all Houston has to do is win once more and it’s season over for the local nine. A loss, of course, eliminates the Twins.
AL wild card standings
Twins games remaining: 2 (both at home against the Royals)
Games to watch today: 3
Kansas City at Twins (Noon, Ch. 9) The Twins’ season rests on Tommy Milone’s shoulders. They need a win; nothing else will do. Milone has been battling a shoulder injury lately but he’s looked good while going 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against the Royals this season. Milone allowed two runs in seven innings of a 6-2 win at Kansas City on Sept. 7. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City’s Saturday starter, was the loser in that contest, giving up four runs, eight hits and five walks in 5.1 innings. That began a four-start stretch where the righty went 2-1 with a 5.32 ERA before yielding two hits over seven innings in a 1-0, 11-inning defeat to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
L.A. Angels at Texas (Noon, No local TV): The Angels have rediscovered their oomph and that’s not good news for Twins fans. After a loss in Thursday’s opener with Texas, the Halos got a spark from – who else? – Mike Trout when he tripled in the top of the ninth inning and was driven home a batter later off an Albert Pujols single. The Angels can’t win the AL West any longer but can throw a wrench into the wild card race – and nip the Twins out of a spot – by sweeping the weekend. Hector Santiago makes his sixth start of the season against the Rangers on Saturday; he is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 innings against them. Trout (four) and Pujols (three) have combined for seven homers off Rangers starter Colby Lewis the past two seasons.
Houston at Arizona (7 p.m., MLB Network) Um, yeah. About that whole “no-designated-hitter-in-a-National-League-ballpark” thing you might've read about. Sure didn’t bother the Astros on Friday as they walloped Arizona 21-5 in the desert. Twins fans are hoping (praying?) they used all the offense they brought with them in one game because one more Houston win and it’s kaput for Molitor and Co. for this season. Arizona will try to make a few friends among the Minnesota snowbirds near and far by sending Jeremy Hellickson to the mound. He’s pitched just 12 innings since coming off the disabled list Sept. 11 after a hamstring injury.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this blog.