The Minnesota Twins have completed one of the greatest turnarounds in MLB history. After losing a league-worst and franchise-worst — not counting their time as the Washington Senators — 103 games in 2016, the Twins became the first team to ever follow a 100-loss season with a postseason berth.
The Twins officially clinched a spot in the AL wild-card game thanks to the Angels 4-2 loss to the White Sox.
Truth be told, the Twins have authored quite a turn around just within the 2017 season. Minnesota was content looking to the future at the trade deadline, shipping away veteran Jaime Garcia six days after acquiring him from Atlanta, in addition to trading key reliever Brandon Kintzler.
The Twins were 50-54 at the time, which put them 4.5 games behind the second wild card. Given how crowded the standings were at the time, Minnesota seemed like a distinct long shot even with a strong finish. In fact, they were given just a five-percent chance to make the postseason at that point.
This is why they play all 162 games. As crunch time arrived, the other contenders slowly faded into the background while the Twins surged with a 20-10 record in August. The Twins five-game winning streak, which was snapped Wednesday in Cleveland, allowed them to pull away from their unique place in history decisively.
This marks the Twins first trip to the postseason since 2010, and their first ever berth as a wild-card team. They’ve won 11 division titles and two World Series championships since moving to Minnesota in 1961.
The Twins will likely go on to face the Yankees in the AL wild-card game on Oct. 3, though it’s still at least possible New York will catch Boston for the AL East. Regardless of how that shakes out, Minnesota will be on the road looking to win its first postseason game since 2004, and in a do-or-die game no less.
It’s not ideal, but it’s an opportunity to continue their remarkable season and story.
To do so, the Twins will likely have to keep fighting without Miguel Sano. The young slugger has been sidelined since Aug. 19 with a stress reaction in his shin. Sano will not play again in the regular season, but hasn’t been officially ruled out of any postseason games. Though his absence hasn’t really hurt them in the standings, they could really use his game-changing power as a compliment to a revitalized Joe Mauer and rising stars such as Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton.
Veteran right-hander Ervin Santana would presumably make the season-deciding start for Minnesota. He was an All-Star this season and leads MLB with five complete games and three shutouts.
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