Do The Minnesota Twins Have What It Takes To Capture Second Wild Card?
The Minnesota Twins continue to play solid baseball in the month of September, minus the Los Angeles Angels series, as they captured their 14th win of the month Monday night with a 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Tommy Malone made a spot start for Phil Hughes (illness), surrendering just two runs over 5 2/3 innings pitched. The Twins needed exactly that kind of performance from Malone as they find themselves just 1.5 games back from the Houston Astros for the second Wild Card entering play Tuesday.
With just six games remaining, the Twins need to start winning ball games and fast — Houston and Los Angeles losing would be highly appreciated. However, as for the last stretch of the season, Twins fans everywhere will become huge Mariners, A’s, Diamondbacks and Rangers fans. Houston has two games remaining against Seattle, followed by a three-game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Angels on the other hand have two games left vs. Oakland, concluding the season with a four-game set with Texas. This last week of games will be exciting and possibly stressful, but either way, you have to love how far the Twins have come.
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Concluding Monday night’s victory vs. Cleveland, the Twins own a 14-12 record in September — three of those losses coming via Los Angeles. As for the Twins final stretch, they have three games left against Cleveland, followed by a three-game set against Kansas City.
One player who has had a huge September and is one reason the Twins have made it to this point, is second baseman Brian Dozier. I mean, where would the Twins be without the All-Star? Sure, Dozier’s average isn’t anything spectacular, yet the man produces. Over the last seven games, Dozier has compiled a .375 batting average, going 9-for-24 with three doubles, one home run and five runs batted in.
As for the pitching side of things, look no further than offseason acquisition Ervin Santana. Santana received a wakeup call Aug. 25 against the Tampa Bay Rays, yielding five runs on eight hits over 2.2 innings. Since then, the right-hander has been lights-out. Over his last six starts, Santana has given up just seven runs over 36.0 innings — going 5-0 over that span. Needless to say, the money spent on Santana this past offseason was well worth it.
You can’t forget about the boost Tyler Duffey has provided for this Twins rotation as well. In Duffey’s nine starts this season, the Twins have gone 7-2. Not too shabby. Duffey is currently 5-1 on the season, boasting an ERA of 3.14.
The rotations to finish the season goes as followed:
at Cleveland: Kyle Gibson (10-11, 3.96 ERA)
at Cleveland: Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.09 ERA)
at Cleveland: Tyler Duffey (5-1, 3.14 ERA)
vs. Kansas City: Ervin Santana (7-4, 4.10 ERA)
vs. Kansas City: Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.43 ERA)
vs. Kansas City: Kyle Gibson (10-11, 3.96 ERA)
Do the Twins have what it takes to catch the Astros for the second Wild Card? Time will tell, but winning six out of your last eight ballgames is a good start. With just six games remaining, I would be happy with a 4-2 record — 5-1 or 6-0 would be perfect. Buckle up Twins fans, the race for October is on!