The race doesn't have to go down to the wire. The Twins can finish off the White Sox this week in Chicago and then focus on running down the Yankees and Rays - who have six games left against each other - for AL supremacy.
The Twins have their three best pitchers - Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing and Carl Pavano - line up for this three-game series. Their bullpen is healthy. They have the best record in the majors since the All-Star break - and that's without Justin Morneau.
And...they own the White Sox.
They are 10-5 against them this season.
They are 22-9 against them over the past two seasons.
They have won 8 for the last 10 games at The Cell, outscoring them 72-35.
Twins fans think that the Yankees are in the Twins' heads. What are White Sox fans thinking about the Twins these days?
''If we win two out of three, our season isn't over, but it's a slim chance,'' White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle said. ``It goes without saying what losing the series will mean.
''If we lose two of three, I think the fat lady will sing,'' he added.
GAME ONE MATCHUPS
Twins v. Danks
- Michael Cuddyer owns Danks, batting .467 with 5 homers and 12 RBI
- Joe Mauer has a .349 average against Danks.
- Jason Kubel is .265-1-11 against Danks - but is 2 for his last 12 against him.
- Matt Tolbert and Delmon Young homered of Danks in their last plate appearances against him.
Sox vs. Liriano
- Alexei Ramirez is 8-for-17 (.471) against Liriano with two doubles..
- Paul Konerko is 4-for-17 (.235) but his four hits are two doubles and two homers.
- A.J. Pierzynski is batting .357 against Liriano.
- Juan Pierre is batting .308 (4-for-13).
Other things to note:
Konerko is 3 for 5 with two homers off of Brian Fuentes - but .118 against Jesse Crain with strikeouts in his last four at-bats.
Manny Ramirez is 0-for-4 against Crain but has a homer in two at-bats against Guerrier - a two-run shot on July 8, 2008 in Boston as the Twins blew a 5-2 lead.
The Twins are 1-for-8 against rookie fireballer Chris Sale, with a single by Michael Cuddyer the only hit.
Lefty Matt Thornton is another key late-inning reliever for the Sox. Jason Kubel is 2-for-12 against him. But Joe Mauer is batting .348.
Jim Thome? They faced each other once....on Aug. 17...at Target Field...in the 10th inning.