The day is finally here, as postseason baseball returns to Target Field for the first time in three years. It's the other running total that fans are concerned with, though.
Nobody needs to be reminded of the fact that the Minnesota Twins haven't won a playoff game since October 2004, with the last 19 years serving as a constant reminder of how steep the hill has been for the team to climb this time of year. It's a cliche to talk yourself into believing this year will be different -- something Twins fans have been telling themselves for two decades -- but it finally feels like this team has the talent to get over the hump.
Starting pitching is a strength, which is a brand new feeling. The Twins have been searching for reliable starters like the Ark of the Covenant and the only faces that have melted are opposing batters trying to get on base. Minnesota has the second-best ERA among American League playoff teams, and will face the best in the AL when Toronto comes to town.
It's looking like a pitching duel in Minnesota over th enext few days, but the Twins are also bringing a lineup of young hitters to the postseason who are getting hot at the right time. Matt Wallner has been a revelation for Minnesota and Edouard Julien deserves to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation after the year he put together.
The headliner is Royce Lewis, who ran into bad injury luck at the worst possible time in September but is expected to be avaliable an ready to make an imapct in the Wild Card series.
Fans have waited 18 long years for a playoff win, and Tuesday has the Twins lined up with perhaps their best chance to end the curse.
Minnesota Twins starting lineup today vs. Toronto Blue Jays (October 3, 2023)
Here's a look at the Twins lineup for Game 1 of the AL Wild Card:
Michael A. Taylor
Fittingly, Pablo Lopez will be on the mound for the first game. When the Twins traded Luis Arraez for him back in January it put a ton of pressure on him to live up to expectations. Lopez did exactly that, finishing with the second-most strikeouts in the American League a Top 25 ERA in all of baseball.
Lopez was the starter in Opening Day, when the Twins clinched the AL Central, and now the first game of the postseason.