Eventually, there will be a banner flying over Target Field. For now, the only indications around Target Field that the Twins are American League Central champions are a little more … mundane.
"There are some remnants of [Friday's postgame clinching party] kind of laying around today," manager Rocco Baldelli said Saturday. "The carpet still smells like champagne and beer and maybe other stuff, I don't know. It feels good."
Even players who have been through plenty of such clubhouse festivities were impressed with how much fun that party got.
"They each have their unique moments, styles," said Dallas Keuchel, who has pitched in 13 games over five postseasons. "But the fact that we went through so much champagne and beer in like 10 minutes was a pretty good indication of how happy we were."
And Baldelli was impressed with how Kenta Maeda seemed to take the lead in celebrating. "He was kind of the ringleader," Baldelli said. "The guy knows how to have fun. I'm all for it."
Seven games remain in the season, and then come the most important games of all: the Twins' first postseason since 2020. Baldelli said he encouraged his players to enjoy the moment but remember that "some of the goals we have are yet to be accomplished."
For one thing, "we want to win every game," Baldelli said, though his lineup in Saturday's 1-0 loss included few of the team's regulars. But the possibility, though mathematically only a tiny one, that the Twins could finish with a better record than whoever wins the AL West, and thus earn a bye in the first round, remains important, the manager said.
"I know it's very unlikely, even if we win virtually every game. To get a bye, it's going to be a very difficult thing," he said. "We're going to try to win every game and see what happens."
Some concessions to the situation, and the upcoming playoff series, will be made, though. For one thing, it's likely that not every player on the roster will travel to Denver for the season's final series against the Rockies next weekend.
"I don't know yet. We might not send everybody," Baldelli said. "Normally, I want everyone there, but this is a little bit different. The guys that could be starting early games in the playoffs," such as Pablo López and Sonny Gray, "we might not drag them out there just to work out for a couple of days."
In addition, the position players and some of the relievers figure to get a game or two off over the final week, resting for the Oct. 3 opener.
"There are going to be some preparations made. That's the right thing to do," Baldelli said. "We're going to have to win on certain days without some of our guys in the lineup."
Decade of service
Keuchel on Saturday reached exactly 10 years of service time in the major leagues, a level that ensures him a six-figure annual pension and puts him in elite company.
"It means a lot to me," said Keuchel, whose career appeared over, just a few weeks short of 10 years, when he was released by three teams in 2022. "It's been on my mind for a few years. Last year, it was on my mind a little bit more than it should have been. When you're kind of struggling, it kind of keeps you going, but at the same time, it frustrates you because it's so close."
In celebration, Keuchel's wife, MLB Network's Kelly Nash, had costume beards, in tribute to Keuchel's long facial hair, sent to the Twins clubhouse. Teammates Emilio Pagán and Chris Paddack were wearing them next to his locker as Keuchel arrived.
"Very funny," Keuchel said, "but very fitting."
The Saints' penultimate game of the season, against Toledo at CHS Field, was canceled because of rain. Their season ends Sunday.