It didn't bother me when the Twins traded Brandon Kintzler and Jaime Garcia before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline. For me, it came down to run differential. The Twins were 50-53 but had been outscored 469-541. Their status as "contenders" looked like a mirage.

I'm still not second-guessing those trades. They were the right moves at the time, period. But I've come around completely on this team's playoff chances. It goes back to run differential, and the mediocrity of every team chasing them in the wild-card race. Consider:

• The Twins were on the wrong end of far too many blowout losses halfway through the season. They lost by five or more runs in 21 of their first 89 games, a whopping 24 percent, which usually speaks to the futility of a team's pitching staff.

• Since July 15 (through Monday), they are 12-4 in games decided by five-plus runs. That mark was 12-2 before the seven-run loss at Tampa Bay last week and Sunday's eight-run defeat at KC.