We still have nine games left on the Minnesota Twins schedule, but the season can effectively end tonight at Target Field. The ninth AL Central crown in team history can be placed on the Twins head on Friday night with a win over the Los Angeles Angels.
It marks the first time since 2010 that the Twins have a chance to clinch the division at home in front of fans. Minnesota won the Central back in 2020 but there were no fans in attendance due to COVID rules. The Twins won the division back in 2019 as well, but that happened on the road in Detroit.
You have to go back 13 years for the last time Twins fans got to celebrate a division title at Target Field and even longer for when it could happen outright. Usually the Twins have had to win and then wait to see what happens, but Friday is a win-and-in game that will have a playoff-like atmosphere all night long.
How can Minnesota Twins clinch AL Central today? (September 22nd)
There are two ways the Twins can clinch the division and punch their playoff ticket today. The first is the easiest: win.
If the Twins beat Los Angeles on Friday night, the race is over. Minnesota controls its own destiny from here on out, which means the next win the team gets is the clinching victory. Ideally that comes on Friday, but any of the next six home games are win-and-in scenarios.
Minnesota can still win the division on Friday even if they somehow lose to the Angels. A loss by both the Guardians and Tigers would clinch the division for the Twins regardless of the outcome of their game. It's the least sexy way to win the division, and would be the definition of backing into the playoffs, but it also highlights how inevitable a division title is.
If you're wondering why the Tigers are involved, it's because of ressurgent they've been over the last month. Cleveland has been in a downward spiral while Detroit has hit a garbage time stride. For all the worrying some fans did about the Guardians catching the Twins, there's a very real chance that they finish behind the Tigers in the final standings.
Cleveland plays Baltimore at 6:10 pm CT with the Tigers game against the A's starting at 8:40 pm CT.
Luckily for Twins fans, Detroit's game is extremely winnable so if for some reason the division isn't outright clinched on Friday there's a good chance the team gets a do-over on Saturday.
This is the ideal situation, though. Minnesota has battled through ups and downs all season to end the year strong, and to be able to outright win the division on their own terms in front of a home crowd is the best possible way to send the team into the postseason and on a path to ending its dreaded curse.