Well, this has escalated quickly.
The Twins can clinch the second wild card berth TONIGHT if they beat Cleveland and the Angels lose to the White Sox. It didn't seem possible a week ago, when Los Angeles closed to within 1.5 games of the Twins in the wild card race. But the Angels have fallen apart since then, leaving the Twins in command for their 12th postseason appearance.
I'm so unprepared for this that I had to run to a local Target today to get a pullover in case the Twins do clinch and there are various fluids being hurled around the clubhouse. My training from the 2002 to 2010 run is just starting to kick in.
With the Twins playing an hour ahead of the Angels, they will be in the clubhouse when that game ends. That was the case here in 2002, when the Twins sat in the visitors clubhouse in Cleveland while the White Sox trailed the Yankees in New York when the game was delayed by rain. When it was called after six innings, the Twins erupted. Fluids were hurled, cigars were lit and songs were sung. Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, I believe.
I remember being attacked by Jacque Jones, who sprayed beer on me while yelling, "This is for writing that I can't hit lefties!" Ah, the memories.
I think this team will erupt in a similar way, especially Mauer, Perkins, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar. It's been a seven year wait for Mauer and Perkins, and Dozier and Escobar have been around a few years with a post season.
Twins manager Paul Molitor is not comfortable discussing anything that has to do with the Twins and the postseason.
"Most of my focus is trying to win tonight," he said. "I realized that's a possibility, but I'm not going to count on that."
Bartolo Colon is on the mound tonight, and he has a 13.09 ERA over his last three starts. It's a bad matchup, on paper, and the Twins likely will have a short leash with him as they try to close out the wild card run.
But the Twins have won five of six games here this season, and Molitor expects them to take the Indians on with no fear.
"I'm not going to be overly concerned how these games go other than I want to win," he said. "You just keep looking for your team to keep doing what it has been doing. We have played well in this park, and we have matched up fairly well."
Molitor is trying to keep things in perspective, even as meetings about playoff shares and playoff ticket requests are ongoing in the clubhouse. Like he said in today's story about clinching, he'll relax when he's handed a postseason t-shirt.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona feels the same way. His team is fighting for the top seed going into the postseason, so the foot will remain on pedal until that goal is achieved. He must have a lead foot, because his team is 29-2 over it's last 31 games.
Here's his response when asked if the Twins can beat opponents different ways:
“Well I don’t really sit around and think of that because what I care about is trying to beat them today," Francona said. "The philosophy of how they got good is – I just care about how we’re going to beat Colon tonight and how we’re going to move on to tomorrow.
"I mean they’ve been a fun team to watch because they’ve scratched and clawed so much, so when you think they’re down and out, now all of a sudden their number is two. Anyone who knows Derek Falvey is thrilled for them. Guess my hope is while they’re here, they clinch that spot but they clinch it by the other team losing.”
Falvey is here for the series, and I'm hearing that other Twins officials have arrived as well.
Max Kepler is back after missing one game with a sore left hip.
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Jorge Polanco, SS
Eddie Rosario, LF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Max Kepler, RF
Byron Buxton, CF
Jason Castro, C
Robbie Grossman, DH
Bartolo Colon, RHP
Francisco Lindor, SS
Austin Jackson, LF
Jose Ramirez, 2B
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Jay Bruce, RF
Carlos Santana, 1B
Jason Kipnis, CF (!!!)
Roberto Perez, C
Giovanny Urshela, 3B
Josh Tomlin, RHP