After riding the wave of beating up on bad teams last week, the Minnesota Twins were very quickly humbled when the Tampa Bay Rays came to Target Field.
It's one thing to beat up on the Guardians and Mets, but it's literally an entirely different ballgame against postseason-quality teams.
Minnesota was punched in the mouth on Monday when the Rays poured seven runs on Sonny Gray's day. Only one of those runs counted against Gray but he also only lasted four innings on 89 pitches. The Twins sobered up on Tuesday, getting the Rays back and getting back into the win column.
While the Twins are running away with the AL Central, things haven't been as great as they've seemed. Despite beating up the Guardians and Mets for a combined score of 42-19, Minnesota had only won two of its last five games heading into Tuesday.
Between that and the fact that Gray got roughed up by a team Minnesota could see again when it really counts, there's more than a little anxiety going around. All of that, of course, is against the backdrop of the team not having won a postseason game since 2004 -- a streak that looks likely to be broken but we've been fooled before.
What remains steady, though, is the Twins path to the postseason.
What is the Minnesota Twins magic number? (Updated September 12th)
It's merely a matter of time before the AL Central crown is placed on the Twins head. We knew this after the Cleveland series, as the Guardians last stand was more of a backward tumble down a steep cliff.
Minnesota is going to win the division, but what matters is how they do it.
Cleveland is still technically alive but is very quickly running out of runway. After Tuesday, the Twins magic number is down to 10 with 16 games left on their schedule. This is important because Minnesota needs to definitively punch its postseason ticket rather than running the clock out on a bad team.
The Twins are a very good team when they play up to their standards, but that's something they've struggled to do at times this year. There are two ways the Twins make the playoffs: by default or by showing they deserve the spotlight October brings.
These last few weeks of the season aren't about making the playoffs, it's about making the case to be there.