For the second time in as many seasons, the Twins’ playoff hopes will come down to one game. One game will decide if the Minnesota Twins end their season as one of twenty-two non-playoff teams or continue it as the American League Central champions. The record can be thrown out, it is now insignificant. The one game that the Twins currently stare in the face will determine the season’s path, and the implications are clear: win and go to New York, lose and go home.
One year ago, almost to the very date, the Twins threw the records out and took the field in Chicago to decide their fate. One run in one game ended the season, and a moment of opportunity became a moment of heartbreak. If there is one team that knows what it is like to have a tiebreaker determine the purpose of the previous six months, it’s the Twins. When they take the field against Detroit, they’ll do so in historic fashion – as the first team to ever play in a one-game playoff in back-to-back seasons.
What seemed impossible on Thursday night, became reality on Sunday. Trailing by two games with three remaining entering the weekend, the Twins faced an uphill battle to win or tie for the division. The likelihood of such things happening were small, but as the team took the field Sunday, they did so tied atop the American League Central.
A Twins win coupled with a Detroit loss would have guaranteed the playoffs for Minnesota and been the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. After the Tigers avoided a late comeback attempt by Chicago however, the Twins’ victory meant only a guaranteed tiebreaker game to be played at the Metrodome, and a first in baseball history – until this past weekend, no team had ever blown a three-game lead in four days.
Four weeks ago when the Twins trailed Detroit by seven games, things looked bleak, and the chances looked even more bleak when Morneau’s season ended three weeks ago. Behind heart-filled performances from the likes of Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, Delmon Young and others, the Twins now have a chance of a lifetime.
One game, on one day, will decide the fate of the entire season. The Twins have been in the situation before and know the disappointment. They now have a chance, in front of more than 50,000 fans, to change last season’s outcome, make one more memory and win one more division under the roof.