Minnesota Twins are baseball’s best story

The Minnesota Twins have the Cleveland Indians, currently the best team in the American League, right where they want them.

The magic number for the team that won’t quit is one for a spot in the postseason — the play-in game vs. the Yankees.

The Twins, who can’t beat the Indians at Target Field, are now 6-1 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, where the Twins will open the official postseason if they knock off the Yankees in the play-in game next Tuesday. (They’ll open in Houston if the Indians don’t clinch the league’s best record)

Last evening, on the way to another Indian win, Brian Dozier delivered what Indians announcer Tom Hamilton said was the Twins’ biggest win of the year.

Dozier, who was thought to be on the trading block last off-season, rallied his team in July when the team’s front office threw in the towel and traded its closer and a starting pitcher.

After Dozier’s homerun last evening, the Indians, who’d wiped out two previous Twins leads, were at it again when Jason Kipnis led off the eighth inning with an easy double against any other team.

But Byron Buxton, who earned scorn from some fans earlier this year as another “bust”, is a superstar now.

None of this should be happening, FiveThirtyEight wrote last week. Teams simply don’t go from losing 103 games in one season to the playoffs the next year.

It’s happening.

  • Barton

    I admit to not following the AL closely, so I have a question:

    Is Cleveland sitting their best players right now? Or did they somehow change the rotation?

    I am honestly not trying to take away from the win, but I am curious.

    • Nope. They’re all playing. Tito gives players a day off here or there but that’s about it. He IS using these games to figure out his postsseason rosters. That’s why you saw minor leaguers come in as pinch hitters late n the game. Also why McAllister got the ball in the 9th (to see if he still chokes in pressure situations. He does), and why Andrew Miller came in at the start of the inning instead of to quell a rally.

      Tomlin is on the bubble for the postseason. He’s planning on Clevinger for the bullpen even though Clevinger is the better pitcher.

      He got a chance last night to see that maybe that wasn’t such a good decision.

      • Erik Petersen

        Tomlin would be a superstar in Minnesota amateur ball with that 87 mph fastball and lollipop curve.

        • He proves the value of throwing strikes (especially first pitch strikes) and keeping hitters off balance but it seems that good hitters have a solution to that: swing at the first pitch. It’ll be a strike.

          • Erik Petersen

            That’s not nothing, I shouldn’t denigrate.

            Ya, “Off balance” is when you’re sure you’re going to hammer that 87 mph fastball and it feathers off a little or is actually that dead fish curveball.

          • Meanwhile, the Indians Danny Salazar, possessor of a million-dollar arm, also has a 10-cent head and can’t seem to do with much more talent than Tomlin, what Tomlin can do with much less talent.

            The Twins will get to Danny tonight. Guaranteed.

          • Rob

            I hear a Yogi Berra-ism in there…

  • Gary F

    Dozier signed through next year. He looks like the team leader, he’s one of the best 2nd baseman in the league, it would be nice to have him around another 4 years.

    One nice thing about this team is that so many players were drafted and developed by the Twins.

    Once you get competition for some positions, for example, third base and the outfield, guys really step up their game. Look at Escobar, he’s really upped his game. Sano will just be a DH if he returns.

    Just like most teams in the league, pitching, pitching, pitching.

    Had to call it a night before his home run last night, too many relief pitchers.

    I sure could use a win in NY next Tuesday. Cleveland and Houston are just too good, but it could happen.

    • // too many relief pitchers.

      Baseball has to do something about the September call-up situation. It’s rather insane.

      • Gary F

        I like watching Clevinger. A genuine, goofy kid who can really throw. I love watching him up there. He looks like a kid having fun playing the game.

  • MikeB

    Those who decried Buxton as a bust have to hand in their baseball fan card. Forever. Pour Coke all over their keyboards, never be allowed near a game broadcast again, all baseball subscriptions permanently cancelled. They can follow football instead, it’s a better match for their judgement and temperament.

  • Rob

    Fairy tales can come true, up to a point, even for teams playing .529 ball. But it’ll end in tears in New York. So savor the ride for the next few days, Twins fans!

  • A-man

    There was some real tension in the air last night watching that game. It was the official start of playoff baseball. It was good practice for the real thing next week. Obviously they wanted the win more than anything, but Molitor’s bullpen moves seemed overly cautious throughout the game. I wonder if he wanted to get as many players as possible to feel what it was like to pitch in that environment.

  • PaulK

    It’s this time of year that I sometimes wish I could actually watch a game, but the radio is still the best way to ‘watch’ baseball. Provus has really grown on me, and Gladden has upped his game in the last few years. It still surprises me when Gladden talks about a high fly ball as if it were a can of corn, and then it goes out of the park.

    • Because of MLB’s insipid rule against local teams on its At Bat application, I had to listen to the radio although while I like Provus, I find Gladden’s stint to be just horrible. OTOH, since I’m an indians fan,I listen to Tom Hamilton, who, by the way, loves the Twins. Wisconsin native.

      • A-man

        Bob, you should try Youtube TV for a month. All the AL games will be on FS1 or ESPN. I think you can still get a month for free before you have to pay.

        • Are the local teams blacked out?

          I follow an out of market team so it’s not a big deal unless my team is playing the Twins.

          • A-man

            No local blackouts. It would only be a short-term fix for this Twins/Indians series and the playoffs. Youtube TV has several national cable channels and then your local affiliates including Fox Sports North, KARE11, WCCO, etc.

          • Looks like it’s only a two-week trial

          • A-man

            It’s a nice option if you don’t do cable or satellite to watch Fox Sports North. If you have a Chromecast, you can check the “offers” section. I had a free month, but that might have been a short-term deal. I ended up paying the next month since the Twins took off.

  • Bob Sinclair

    Hey Nate! Sometimes teams do exceed expectations and the numbers.

  • What’s with Kipnis playing center field and Austin Jackson playing left field? How is Kip’s range in center?

    • He played there in college at ASU. I think. Jackson is a platoon player while Kipnis is an every day player. So I think Tito’s thinking is that he’d be swapping centerfielders day to day instead of left fielders (Almonte, Chisenhall when he gets off the DL, etc.)

      Also he brings in Greg Allen late in the game for defense.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    I understand the statistic about 100 loss teams and the playoffs. But remember the 1991 World Series featured two “worst-first” teams. A check of Baseball Reference shows that the Braves had 97 loses 1990, the Twins 88. IF the Twins make it past the Yankees and IF they make it past Cleveland/Houston in the ALDS then that statistic becomes impressive. Otherwise it is just trivia.

    • The Twins were not the worst team in the league in 1990. The Yankees were. Those were good days.

      • The other thing that I think makes this season special is it seems to me there hasn’t been a lot of turnover in the lineup. For the most part the Twins are doing it with essentially the same team. That’s the luxury of youth, I guess.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          Yes, nobody expected this because there were very few substantial changes to last year except in the catcher position. And those were viewed as defensive improvements. Depending on what happens next season, it may show that 2016 was the exception not 2015.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        True, but they were the last place team in their division as were the Braves which spawned the whole “worst to first” angle on the World Series.

        • Going last to first in a division doesn’t impress me much. There are only five teams in a division.

          I believe the Braves in 1990 were the worst team IN BASEBALL. Certainly in their league

          I believe the Twins in 2016 were the worst team IN BASEBALL.

          Lots of teams go worst to first in a division. Heck, as I recall, Boston went FIRST to WORST to FIRST to WORST over four consecutive seasons .