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And the Magic Number is . . .

September 26, 2017

If my math is right (and when it comes to math I never claim to be right), the Twins Magic Number to reach the post season is two. With five games left to play and a five game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, that mean a combination of one Twins win and one Angels loss will put secure the second American League Wild Card spot and put the Minnesota Twins into the MLB post season.

That’s pretty amazing.

It’s pretty amazing because the Twins finished the 2016 season with a horrible 56-103 season and the lack of substantial off-season moves didn’t give anyone anything to be excited about.

It’s pretty amazing because we traded away our veteran All Star closer, Brandon Kintzler, at the break and we lost our All Star slugger, Miguel Sano, to a stress fracture of his right tibia on August 21st.

It’s pretty amazing because players like Jorge Polanco (.260/.316/.414 with 14 HRs) and Eddie Rosario (.287/.327/.504 with 26 HRs) and Eduardo Escobar (20 HRs) have developed into legitimate baseball players, and starter Kyle Gibson has turned into a completely different person after reversing his terrible 5-7 (6.31 ERA) first half record into a stellar 7-3 (3.58 ERA) second half record.

It’s pretty amazing because Brian Dozier (32 HRs) keeps hitting homers and Joe Mauer has returned to form as an everyday player, both at the plate (.308/.384/.421) and in the field (.998 fielding percentage).

It’s pretty amazing because relievers like Trevor Hildenberger (2.95 ERA in 39.2 innings) and Alan Busenitz (1.50 ERA in 30 innings) and Matt Belisle (4.17 ERA in 58.1 innings) have stepped up and become legitimate relievers.

It’s pretty amazing because after the Kintzler trade the team was left with no closer and that speaks to the rest of the bullpen. But maybe that’s not so amazing when you see a team averaging 6 runs per game in the second half.

It’s pretty amazing because Byron Buxton, league leader in stolen base percentage (96.43%) has, during the second half of the season hit .304/.354/357 with 11 HRs and blossomed into the bona fide superstar that people like me have been waiting three years for. Regardless of how the season plays out for the Twins, just watching Buxton these last couple of months makes this season a success for me.

Honestly, the success of the 2017 Twins has to be the most under covered news story in Minnesota.

With the optimism of Spring Training pumping through my veins I picked the Twins to play right around .500 back in February and it never felt better to be wrong.

So the big question now is with the Yankees and Red Sox running neck and neck for the AL East title, which team would I as a Twins fan rather face in the win-or-go-home play-in game next Tuesday? I’ll pick the Red Sox, but in truth I don’t like the prospect of having to face either Chris Sale of Luis Severino. But I go with the Red Sox because the Twins have a fairly decent history playing against Sale. And because the Yankees are the Yankees and it doesn’t seem to matter what year it is or what the game situation is or what the Twins roster is, the Twins can never seem to beat the Yankees. (No, I don’t believe there’s a Yankees jinx, I believe that the Yankees are simply a perennially better team than the Twins) The best-case scenario would be for the Yankees and Red Sox to battle each other in high-scoring extra-inning games and then by the time one of them faces us their bullpens will be so beat up that it won’t matter who we’re playing!

Of course this might all be moot if the Twins can’t win a couple more games. And it’s not going to be easy for them as they’re going into a three-game series starting tonight in Cleveland before ending up at home against the Tigers. None of those six games are going to be easy. The LA Angels, on the other hand, have the more favorable schedule as they play three against the lowly White Sox and then return home for three against division rival Mariners.

Baseball is the best game on the planet in the universe and for your team to be playing meaningful games in September is more than any fan can ask for. But to be holding a post season spot at this point is like heaven.

Go Twins!

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