You would think the Twins and their fans, after four straight seasons of 90-plus losses and no chance at the playoffs, would be celebrating what the team has done up to this point this season. If the season ended today, the Twins would qualify as a playoff team and be the American League’s second Wild Card team.
Hip hip hooray — that is a lot to celebrate. However, the Twins are kind of stuck right now in a holding pattern.
Kansas City, as a Wild Card last year, made it all the way to the seventh game of the World Series, finally losing to the San Francisco Giants. The Royals last won a World Series in 1985 when they beat St. Louis in seven games. The Twins trail the Royals by seven and a half games in the American League Central. So it’s possible, but not likely, that they will overtake them and win the division.
The Twins have played Los Angeles and New York now in back-to-back series and lost both series. So just when you should be happy about being in position to make the playoffs, the frustration of losing to good teams reminds you to keep your head up and your eye on the prize.
The Twins are 52-46 with 64 games left, and to this point they have had a promising season. The Torii Hunter return in free agency has worked great. He’s among the team leaders in home runs and RBIs, plus his leadership in the locker room and on the field has been invaluable to the young guys. Like Aaron Hicks, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton, he’s the bread and butter future of this team.
Losing free agent Ervin Santana for 80 games for a performance-enhancing drug suspension has probably cost this team a chance at a division title. The Twins just need to keep playing hard and pitching better. The Twins series against the Angels and Yankees shed some light on how much work they have ahead to improve between now and the end of the regular season.
The Twins in game one won 10-1 vs. the Yankees and led 5-0 in game two. Kansas City, New York and Los Angeles have superior talent and experience with Mike Trout, Albert Pujois, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
The Twins are playing good baseball for first-year manager Paul Molitor, but there is room for improvement. They just need to stay the course and keep playing hard; they are 3-6 since the All-Star break and have experienced a speed bump. Plus, the American League Central may be the toughest division in the American League.
Detroit and Chicago are both getting healthy and better and have the pitching and hitting to challenge down the stretch. The Twins will be OK — they are just going through a tough stretch of growing pains. They are good but not yet good enough.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.