For the sixth time in the past nine years, the Minnesota Twins have won the American League Central Division.
Earlier tonight, the Twins reduced their magic number to one when they came from behind to defeat the Cleveland Indians 6-4. Then a short time ago, the second place Chicago White Sox fell to the Oakland Athletics 7-2 thus clinching the division for the Twins.
It was the White Sox eighth loss in a row. Manny Ramirez has proved to be a bust. In 19 games with the Chisox, Ramirez has driven in only one run. All of this makes me grateful. If the White Sox reached the post-season we would have never heard the end of it from President Obama.
The Twins managed to win despite the absence of Joe Nathan. A triumvarate of closers (Jon Rauch, Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes) more than filled the breach. For the second year in a row they also managed to win without Justin Morneau. Who amongst us would have believed Carl Pavano would tally 17 wins? And what of Delmon Young coming of age? Lest we forget the emergence of rookie third baseman Danny Valencia. Oh yes, there's some guy named Joe Mauer.
The Twins are 15-4 in the month of September and 45-18 since the All-Star break. It's also worth noting that tonight's victory marked Ron Gardenhire's 800th as Twins manager. In a few years, Gardenhire has a chance of eclipsing his predecessor Tom Kelly who won 1,140 games in 16 seasons as Twins skipper. Gardenhire should win AL Manager of the Year (although one could make an argument for Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.) You would think with six divisional titles under his belt that Gardenhire should win the award one of these years.
Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac and Matt Vasgersian of the MLB Network were discussing whether the Twins clinching early would hurt their momentum in the post-season. Well, the Twins clinched the AL Central last year in game 163. All of their momentum crashed with a thud against the New York Yankees.
In all likelihood, the Twins will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. But the Yankees have been their albatross. The Twins have fallen to the Yankees thrice in the ALDS (2003, 2004 and 2009.) Of course, the Twins have only advanced past the ALDS once and that was in 2002 when they eliminated the Oakland Athletics only to lose to the Anaheim Angels in the ALCS. So the Twins have a lot to prove in the post-season.