As a Bay Area resident, I’ve been plagued for the past few weeks with commercials on Comcast claiming, quite rightly, that the San Francisco Giants are still “in this thing”. To some extent they are. Despite a painful loss to the Rockies the other evening, their hopes of making the play-offs are still alive, and perhaps better than the Twins’ chances seeing as how good their starting pitching can be.
But the Twins? Baseball, being the unusual game it is, has thrown us yet another curve-ball, and it’s amazing how quickly things can change in a few days. Minnesota is now four games behind Detroit, after the Tigers failed to take advantage yet again of their lead and lost three of four to the Royals, who once again seem to be taking delight in playing spoiler. Note to Twins fans: despite the fact that everyone is harping on about the upcoming crucial series against Detroit this weekend and then four more games later, Minnesota also has to play the Royals six more times, including the final three games of the season at the Metrodome. Just sayin’.
But yes. This weekend’s series against Detroit is, truly, the most crucial three games of the year so far. A sweep would see the Twins just a single game back. Even two out of three wouldn’t be a disaster. But losing two (and especially three) could be fatal. It’s worth noting too, that even if Minnesota was to sweep the Tigers, there would still be a lot more work to be done, and they’d still be relying on results going their way. It’s not a mathematical impossibility for the Twins to win the AL Central, but it’s going to require a massive meltdown by Detroit to make it happen.
And we all know, this kind of thing can happen. Witness the Mets of 2007. See how Tampa Bay lost 11 straight this month and completely ruled themselves out of contention. Notice how Boston’s seven-game winning streak while Texas faltered at Oakland may be just enough to clinch that AL wild-card berth.
Baseball can be exciting and exhilarating, but it can also be cruel. I quite like the predicament the Twins find themselves in: They have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, whereas the Tigers are really the ones under pressure. I’m not betting on the Twins clinching the division this year, and the prospect of facing the Yankees in the play-offs would be downright scary, but you never know, anything could happen.