Friday night’s game against the Royals was rained out. Weather reports said the rain was a product of Hurricane Isaac, but Twins fans know better. That storm was Mother Nature taking mercy on the Twins by not forcing them to play another August game.
The Twins bumbled their way to a 9-19 record in August, their worst monthly mark since a 6-16 April. It would have been worse if not for the first week of the month, when they convincingly beat Boston and Cleveland in consecutive road series. After an August 7th win over the Indians, the Twins tallied just four lonely wins amidst 17 horrid losses. The saddest part is that the awful August came on the heels of three months of competence; in May, June, and July, the Twins had records near .500 each month. At one point in early August, Minnesota had a legitimate chance to catch Cleveland for third place in the Central Division. Now they own the worst record in the American League, and only Houston and the Chicago Cubs of the NL have lower winning percentages than the Twins.
To be fair, the Twins had some nasty competition. They endured the baseball equivalent of the Bataan Death March when they had to face the surging Mariners, the surprisingly good Athletics, and the two time AL Champion Rangers on a 10 game road trip. Surrounding that ugly trip, the Twins had three other series against playoff hopefuls: Tampa, Detroit, and Seattle again. A good team might have held their own under these conditions, but it was too much for the lowly Twins.
And if that wasn’t enough, we also had to endure three days of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Carl Pavano’s case of medical malpractice, a near no-hitter at the hands of Matt Harrison, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau trade rumors, two weeks of “will he or won’t he” DL speculation about Denard Span, an awful slump by Trevor Plouffe, and the last couple weeks of Nick Blackburn in the Majors. It was far more horror than any team (or fan) should be subjected to in one month, and learning about the 2014 All Star Game couldn’t quite heal those wounds.
The good news is that September looks much nicer. The Twins will play 28 games, 25 of which are against their fellow AL Central teams, and not one is against an AL West opponent. Minnesota is actually a respectable 23-24 in the Central Division. About half those upcoming AL Central games are against Kansas City and Cleveland, whom the Twins have owned this year. They’re a combined 15-8 against the division’s other two also-rans. The three non-division games are against the Yankees at Target Field. The Twins have had plenty of problems with the Yankees in the past, but they actually managed to play well in the early season series in the Bronx, taking two out of four. Also, the Yankees series is late enough in the year that New York will probably have clinched a playoff spot, so there might be a chance for some cheap victories against a resting team.
Add it all up, and the Twins have a solid chance for an above .500 September, as long as they don’t throw in the towel.
But wins aren’t the only reason we should look forward to September. We also get to watch the September call-ups. In particular, we might see Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks at some point, if the Twins aren’t afraid to promote them from AA. Arcia blasted a two run homer last night, and he’s hitting .327/.400/.548 since a midseason promotion from Fort Myers. Hicks hasn’t been as flashy, but the former first round pick owns a .284/.380/.453 line. Both appear likely to be regular outfielders for the Twins soon, so it will be exciting if we can witness their first Big League auditions.