It’s been a long season of ups and downs, but the 162nd game will arrive with the Minnesota Twins having already punched a ticket to the postseason.
Thankfully there will be no need for a 163rd game this year, and Twins fans won’t even have to wait as long as next week to see the AL Central clinched by the Good Guys. Minnesota can win its ninth AL Central crown as early as tonight, based on how things out of their control go.
Minnesota controls its own destiny in so much as they just need to win one more game to clinch. Thursday is an off-day for the Twins, though, but they can still wake up as division champions tomorrow depending on the result of Cleveland’s game against the Royals and Detroit’s game out west against the Dodgers.
Minnesota Twins magic number 2023: How the AL Central can be won today
The math is extremely simple: if Cleveland and Detroit both lose on Thursday, the Twins are AL Central Division champions.
We’ve been counting down the days, but it’s always seemed more like an inevitability that the Twins will clinch an AL Central title. It will mark the 13th time Minnesota has been division champs, with nine AL Central crowns and four from their days in the AL West.
All eyes have been on October since the Twins launched Cleveland into the sun back at the beginning of the month, but the race has grown bigger than just what’s happening in the Central. Minnesota still has an outside chance at clinching the No. 2 seed in the American League, something that is a bit of a one shot but still possible.
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Minnesota trails Houston by four games with nine left, and are three games behind Seattle and Texas. Only one of those teams will be in the running for the No. 2 seed as division champs, but for now all three need to be watched.
The Astros have an upcoming series against Seattle that will likely be bare knuckle brawl since it will probably end up determining who wins the AL West. Texas remains alive for a division title as well, sitting just a half game back of the Astros and tied for second with the Mariners.
Things are going to get nasty out west down the stretch, and the result could see the Twins sneak into the No. 2 seed while the other three teams have an Anchorman-style fight to see who can be the last one standing.
For the Twins to win the No. 2 seed they would essentially need to win out. That’s not as daunting when you look at Minnesota’s schedule and see the Angels, A’s, and Rockies as remaining opponents. Even if the Twins only win seven of their next nine, the Astros have back-to-back series against Seattle and Arizona, while the Mariners finish with Houston and Texas.
It’s a long shot, but there’s still a chance the Twins can clinch a first-round bye if everything breaks their way.
At the very least, Minnesota can rest easy knowing they’re division champs and at minimum will host two playoff games in October.