The weekend started with the Minnesota Twins clinching the AL Central for the ninth time in franchise history, and ended with Rocco Baldelli setting the table for the postseason.
For the first time in 13 years the Twins clinched the division in front of fans at Target Field, and did so outright. When they clinched at home back in 2010 the team had to wait for results in games taking place out west before celebrating, but this time around the party started as soon as the final out was recorded.
That final out was harder to get than anyone would have preferred, with Jhoan Duran nearly blowing a lead that was already melting away like ice cream on a warm summer night. The Twins watched an 8-3 lead shrink to 8-6 before the final out, but the stress didn't dampen the celebratory mood.
It was an extended celebration, but the clubhouse got back to business in short order and didn't let what had already been accomplished distract them from the larger goal.
Rocco Baldelli announces starting pitchers for AL Wild Card series
On Sunday, before the series finale against the Angels, Rocco confirmed the worst-kept secret in Minnesota: Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray will be the Twins starting pitchers for the first two AL Wild Card games in a few weeks.
"I don't think there's any reason to not say that. I think it's pretty obvious," Rocco said. "Every single thing beyond that, we're evaluating still."
Anyone who pretends to be surprised by this is lying. For the first time in what feels like forever the Twins have reliable starting pitching that feels built to win in October, and that all starts with its two All-Stars.
Gray is putting up Cy Young numbers while Lopez has delivered on what he needed to be when the team traded Luis Arraez for him back in January. To not start either of them in the two most important games of the season would be malpractice.
Where things become interesting is what happens after those two guys are used, both in games and in a series. The Twins bullpen has been shaky all season, right up to hemorrhaging an 8-3 lead and nearly spoiling a division-clinching game on Friday. Regarding starters, the Twins have an interesting decision to make regarding who a third man in a Wild Card rotation would be.
There's a case to be made for Joe Ryan being that third guy, but Kenta Maeda and Dallas Keuchel could step in too. None of this even matters of the Twins take care of business in the first two games and render a third game unnecessary.
With Lopez and Gray on the bump for the first two games, the chances the Twins finally end a nearly two decade-long curse seems as high as it's ever been.