News flash: The Twins are not going to make the playoffs.



Nope, we double-checked our sources and it is true.

Still, these September games have meaning, and it goes beyond just finding out which prospects offer a glimmer of hope in a three-week audition and which might not be ready for prime time.

It has to do with avoiding the swoon, which we still believe is an important component in evaluating 2014 and Ron Gardenhire's future.

The 2011 and 2012 Twins were marked by terrible baseball at many times, but it got particularly bad in August and September (and October last year in a season that stretched to the third day of that month).

The 2011 Twins were a combined 13-41 in August and September.

The 2012 Twins were 22-37 from Aug. 1 until the end of the season.

Both of those stretches were worse than the Twins' overall season winning percentage, as bad as those 63- and 66-win seasons were.

We were waiting for it to happen again this season. But the 2013 Twins are, so far, 18-21 since Aug. 1 -- not great, but at .462 that's a winning percentage better than the Twins' overall .441 mark for the season.

How you finish a season can say plenty of things. It can be a blip on the radar. It can be an indication of talent level. But it can also very much be a mark of a team -- manager and players -- who have cashed it in and see the beaches and golf courses of the offseason beckoning.

The Twins and Gardenhire cannot afford that this year. They need to stay hungry. At 63-80, this is a lost season. But it doesn't have to be a lost September (5-4 so far). A competitive month against a lot of teams with plenty to play for would tell us a good amount about the state of the franchise.