The focus has been on the Twins holding onto the second wild card spot. But the events of Wednesday might call for a recalibration of their potential.
The day began with Cleveland pitchers holding New York to five runs over two games to secure a doubleheader sweep.
Then the Twins took on the White Sox at Target Field. For the second straight night, they scored a run in the first and added on in the middle innings. Eddie Rosario blasted two home runs. Ehire Adrianza hit two run-scoring triples. Byron Buxton made another brilliant catch in center. Jose Berrios was dominant during seven shutout innings.
And the Twins routed the White Sox 11-1. Coupled with the Yankees’ rough double dip, the Twins are now one game behind New York for the top wild card spot and remained a game ahead of Los Angeles for the second wild card.
“This team is hungry for the playoffs, to have a good season,” said Rosario, who now has 20 home runs. “Everybody is trying to have a good year. That is the key.”
At the beginning of the month, the Twins had just returned from a rough west coast road trip where they went 2-6 and dealt Jaime Garcia to the Yankees and Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals shortly before the trade deadline.
Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked about getting back in the postseason race and replied: “Let’s just focus on getting back to .500 first.”
The Twins were 52-55 at the time. They have gone 17-8 since then. Once awful at home, they have won 10 of their past 14 at Target Field.
“We welcome the road play that we have had most of the year,” Molitor said, “but we knew that when [we] try to accomplish something a little bigger, that our home play had to improve. That’s been the case as of late.”
They are 19-10 this month, with a chance at winning 20 games in a calendar month for just the second time since 1991.
On Wednesday, they took care of a White Sox team they should roll over to remain wild-card worthy.
Joe Mauer beat the Chicago shift with a double to straightaway right field that scored Brian Dozier. Rosario then hit a two-run homer to left in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Adrianza hit a two-run triple in the fifth. Rosario hit a solo shot to center in the seventh, with Adrianza following with an RBI triple to put the Twins ahead 7-0. Adrianza scored on Dozier’s infield hit that made it 8-0.
It made it easier for Berrios to find a groove in his rematch with lefthander Derek Holland, who outpitched him in a 4-1 win in Chicago last Thursday.
In seven innings, Berrios gave up just four hits and one walk while tying a career high with 11 strikeouts.
“It was a way to show them and show everyone that I can beat them,” Berrios said, “regardless of who they are.”
The Twins added three runs in the eighth before Chicago scored once off Glen Perkins in the ninth. Now, as September nears, the Twins have passed the .500 mark and look to remain in a race no one believed they would be in at the start of the season.
“Over the last 20 games plus, we’re starting to put it together where we’re building over .500,” Molitor said. “That’s what you’ve got to do if you want to keep in it through September.”