The Runner Sports

September Will Be All About October For Minnesota Twins

It is embarrassing to admit it now, but I once claimed that April would be the most important month for the Minnesota Twins this season. April was good, but it did not make a huge impact on the season as a whole. Instead, the most important month will either be August, and its 20-7 record culminating with a final play straight from The Simpsons, September, or the single game in October. I’m glad I was wrong about April, because an important September means playoffs are a possibility.

The Twins have 29 games remaining in the season, and with eight teams reasonably vying for two Wild Card spots, each game will have playoff implications. So, how is September going to play out?

Just like April, September starts with three games against the Kansas City Royals. Also like April, the Royals are coming off a period of not scoring runs, except this time they don’t have the offseason to blame. The Royals recently went 45 innings without scoring a run, and even though they have scored nine in two games since, that still bodes well for the Twins, who are doing things well on both sides of the ball. Kansas City is still on the edge of the Wild Card race, however, so they shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

Following the series against Kansas City, the Twins will travel to Florida for a series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were a Wild Card front-runner for most of the season, but have struggled while the Twins have surged, and they now sit four games behind Minnesota. The Rays are capable of slugging any opponents out of town, but the Twins’ bats will be able to keep up in this meeting if they play like they have the last few weeks. The only real concern from this series will be whether or not the Twins can handle the Rays’ starting staff, who have the third best ERA in the American League (the Twins have the ninth).

Then, it is time for four more with Kansas City. By this point, if things keep going terribly for them, the Royals could be playing a lot of September call-ups, and could make this series a bit easier for the Twins. Though the desire for a team to play spoiler, especially against a division rival, means this series will be harder for the Twins than you think.

Two games at Target Field against the San Diego Padres on the 12th and 13th should be another light obstacle for the team. The real hope is that they haven’t cooled off by this point. After all, two weeks is a long time for a team’s mojo to change. Then again, two weeks is also plenty of time for Miguel Sanó to get healthy and help the team out some more.

Then it’s the Blue Jays. A four-game series against Toronto, given how their recent matchup went, should prove no problem for the Twins. José Bautista loves Target Field, but the Twins love the Blue Jays’ pitching, so we can probably expect another slugfest in this set. If that is the case, continued success from the bullpen may be a big factor in these games.

Then what will probably be the most important series of the month comes along. The Twins make their way to the Bronx to face off against Aaron Judge’s strikeouts and the rest of the Yankees lineup. The Yankees had been considered a Wild Card lock, but recent events have them neck-and-neck with the Twins atop the standings. If New York turns it around a bit (their pitching has been bad lately), this series could go a long way in determining which team gets home field advantage in the Wild Card game, or could possibly knock one team out of playoff position altogether. After being eliminated by the Yankees in the playoffs four times in the last decade and a half, it would be great revenge for the Twins to come out on top after this series. As August ends the Twins are the better team, so hopefully that remains the case by the time this series comes around.

The last nine games of the season, including the season’s final game on October 1, include six against Detroit and three against Cleveland. The Twins have seen plenty of both of these teams and have a losing record against both. They will need to turn their luck around to finish the season strong and make the final push to the playoffs.

Luckily, their record in Cleveland is 5-1, and Detroit just traded their best offensive player, Justin Upton. So all three of these series promise to go better than the previous nine they have played against the two teams. I said there was a chance that October could be the most important month of the season for the Twins, and if the season comes down to that one game, the Twins should feel pretty good about their chances if they’re facing Detroit.

Clearly, September is going to be important. In the Royals, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Rays, the Twins are facing four of their Wild Card competitors. This will provide ample opportunity to move ahead in the Wild Card race and lock down a playoff spot. When not playing those key opponents, the Twins only have one series against a great team, when they play those three games in Cleveland. So really, there’s nothing for the Twins to complain about. You can’t ask for much more than to be in playoff position in September and to have your destiny in your own hands.

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer is a lifelong Twins fan who spends most nights dreaming of learning a knuckleball and pitching them to a World Series victory.
Charlie Gillmer

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