Tuesday, September 26, 2006
NEXT STOP: PLAYOFFS
After starting the year at 25-33, who would have thought the playoffs would be in the cards for the Twins? Admittedly, probably not me. But I'll admit the hearing the words "The Twins are going to the playoffs," is music to my ears.
With the Twins 8-1 win over the Royals and the White Sox 14-1 loss to the Indians (way to go out with a bang!) the Twins are assured of at least the Wildcard. The magic number is 0.
Meanwhile, the race for the division is still on. With 6 games to play, the Twins stand 1 (one) game out from the Tigers. This is a little misleading, however, because the Tigers have the tiebreaker. So in other words, if the Twins want to avoid a first round matchup with the Bronx Bombers, they have to win 2 more games than the Tigers do in the last week. The odds are against them, but then, the odds have been against them all year.
In the clincher, the Twins followed the same formula they followed all year... young pitcher on the mound, "pirahnas" getting on base, and the mashers in the middle driving them in. Boof Bonser was once again excellent, and appears (at least in my eyes) to have a strangleholdon the #2 spot in the rotation. With 6.1 good innings, his record is now at 7-5 with an ERA of 4.15. Thank You Brian Sabean indeed!
Offensively, the Twins were patient, drawing 6 walks. But they also got the power. Justin Morneau cracked his 34th HR of the year, and is now at 129 RBI, 2nd most in the AL. Torii Hunter also hit his 30th HR, meaning that after so many years of not having a HR hitter, the Twins have 2 this year. Funny how that works. Another possible milestone for Hunter is that he is now close to reaching 100 RBI. He needs just 5 in the last 6 games to become the 3rd Twins player (Morneau, Cuddyer) to reach that mark this year. Should we resign Torii? I don't know. But it's been fun watching him play for the last month?
In the race for the batting title, Joe Mauer helped his cause with a 2/3 day, raising the average to .349. His main competitors both had good days as well - Derek Jeter went 2/4 to raise the average to .340, and Robinson Cano went 2/4, leaving his average at .342. With 6 games left, this looks like it will be a very tight race, although it is still Mauer's to lose, obviously.
But with the playoff spot clinched, there's no need to worry about the batting title, awards, or anything else. Just enjoy what a marvelous ride it's been so far, and hope that the good times continue.
One thing is for sure... it's a good time to be a Twins fan!