April 7, 2004

April 6, 2014

Metrodome
Indians 11, Twins 4

Big Play
In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Twins were down by 4 runs. Henry Blanco started the inning with a walk, followed by a Nick Punto single. With men at first and second, Cristian Guzman stepped to the plate to face Cliff Lee. Guzman grounded a 2-1 pitch right at the second baseman who started a 4-6-3 double play.

Top Players WPA
Matt Lawton CLE  0.17
Nick Punto MIN 0.14

Worst  WPA
Kyle Lohse MIN – 0.27
Cristian Guzman MIN -0.14

This game was the third of the opening three-game series of the season. The Twins and Indians played 26 innings of baseball in the previous two games – both Twins wins. Less important than the score of this game, however, was the injuries that were already beginning to pile up for the Twins. Torii Hunter left Tuesday’s game with a strained hamstring, and ultimately would go on the 15-day disabled list. Interestingly, it was Michael Cuddyer who spoke to Hunter to convince him that going on the DL was the right move.

More concerning for the Twins, however, was their star-in-the-making catcher, who was injured in only his second major league appearance.

In the top of the third inning against Cleveland Tuesday, Mauer ran behind the plate on Coco Crisp’s foul pop up. The 20-year-old said his shin guard got caught as he slid across the Metrodome’s new rubber warning track.

“I felt it as I soon as I slid,” Mauer said.

Mauer remained in the game though and led off the bottom of the third with a single. Later in the inning, he was running hard around third base on a Luis Rivas hit when he had to abruptly hold up.

“Once I started running and I got to third — it just locked up,” Mauer said. “I knew I had to get out of there.”

It was announced the next morning that Mauer needed surgery.

Mauer joined Hunter, Matthew LeCroy, and Grant Balfour as casualties of the first week of the 2004 season.

 


2005: 74 Pitches

May 21, 2012

May 20, 2005

In December 2003 the Twins sent Eric Milton to the Phillies in exchange for Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, and the famous player-to-be-named-later. To that point in his career, Silva had been used only out of the bullpen. The Twins thought he had the stuff to be a starter, and immediately plugged the Venezuelan into the starting rotation. Silva responded with a solid 2004 season in which he won 14 games and allowed only 35 walks in 203 innings pitched.

2005 started out even better for the 26-year-old Silva. In his first six starts he had a 3.77 ERA and had allowed, incredibly, only two walks in 43 innings pitched. Silva was scheduled to go against the Brewers in a Friday night game at the Metrodome on May 20, 2005; but Silva’s pitching performance could have just as likely have happened 100 years earlier.

The game was a perfect combination of a sinking sinker and an opponent that was more than happy to swing at it. Silva allowed just one run and five hits in a complete game victory. The complete game was rare enough, particularly in the Ron Gardenhire era, but that is not what made this effort by Silva special.

At the end of the night, Silva completed the 7-1 Twins’ victory by throwing just 74 pitches, 50 for strikes. It was, and is, the lowest pitch count in a complete game since 2000, when Elias started keeping track of low pitch counts in complete games.

LaVelle E. Neal offered some perspective in his game story in the Star Tribune (5/21/05):

Chew on this for a minute. A pitcher throws eight warmup tosses before each inning. That means Silva entered the ninth inning with 64 warmup throws and 64 actual pitches. And that means he threw more warmup pitches than actual pitches in the first, second, sixth and seventh innings.

Silva finished the 2005 season leading the league with an incredible 0.4 walks per nine inning rate and 7.89 strikeout to walk ratio. His numbers weren’t great in 2006 or 2007, but he managed to get a big contract with Seattle, where he has struggled for the past season and a half.


A good leader wouldn’t let his team get psyched out…

March 26, 2012

Jon Heyman reports

Ex-Twins star Torii Hunter said some Twins players were beaten before they started, which finally confirms what has long been suspected: that the Twins are intimidated by the Yankees.

How else to explain four wipeouts in the ALDS since 2003, two in three games and two in four, generally following seasons where both teams won fairly similar numbers of regular-season games? Many of the postseason games were close, but the Twins were beaten from the start, according to Hunter. And another ex-Twins star, Michael Cuddyer, now with the Rockies, agreed.

“Some guys were nervous, all nervous,” Hunter, now an Angels player, said of his former Twins teammates. “There were a lot of guys mentally down — like, ooh, we drew the Yankees.’ Just play the game,” Hunter said. “Once it gets in your head, you’re done.”

Another leader agrees:

Cuddyer enthusiastically agreed with Hunter’s general claim that the Twins were psyched out. “It was never about talent in those series,” Cuddyer said. “We played with them all (14) of those games. I think that’s pretty accurate” what Hunter said.

False. I wouldn’t discount the notion that those Yankee teams were in the Twins’ heads, but to say it was never about talent is silly. Those Yankee teams were far and away more talented than those Twins teams.

In the entirety of the time period between 2002 and 2010, there was one playoff series that, going into it, one could reasonably say the Twins were favorites. That was 2006 against the Oakland A’s (the one where a certain center fielder misplayed a single into an inside-the-park homerun – was he intimidated by the A’s?). You can say that, mathematically speaking, the Twins should have won at least a few more games in those series, but they were always (save 2006) beaten by the more talented team.

Hunter’s recollection is also factually flawed, but even more irritating is the fact that he’s still bad-mouthing his former team more than five years after he left.


2003: Kenny Rogers

March 12, 2012

March 12, 2003

When Eric Milton questionable for the entire 2003 season due to a knee injury, the Twins started to look elsewhere for starting pitching. Enter 38-year-old Kenny Rogers who signed a $2 million deal to pitch for the Twins in 2003.

Rogers was coming off of a very good season with the Rangers. He pitched 210.7 innings at the age of 37, and posted a very good 3.84 ERA pitching primarily in Arlington, a hitter’s park (110 PF in 2002).

In a vacuum, the deal looked like a great move for the Twins. Rogers came relatively cheaply, but there was a good track record there to indicate that he was likely to succeed. Had he not, the Twins weren’t locked in to a big expensive contract.

This, however, was not a vacuum. The Twins had a young left-handed pitcher who was quite unhappy with the deal.

Left-hander Johan Santana, the young pitcher many believe is the most talented of the team’s potential starters, said he felt betrayed when the team acquired the veteran Rogers to fill the job that several days earlier was promised to him.

He’s so angry, he said he is considering asking to be traded.

“We’ll see what my agent has to say,” Santana said. “I want to be part of this team. I love this team — great teammates. But you have to look out for yourself, too. You have to take care of yourself, and if they’re not going to do it, you have to find somewhere else. . . .

“I know they’re looking for a replacement (for injured starter Eric Milton), but to me it looks like I don’t mean nothing to them. . . . I feel screwed.”

Santana had a lengthy meeting Thursday morning with manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson, who explained that signing Rogers strengthens the team’s pitching depth, in particular by giving the team the flexibility in the bullpen that Santana provides there.

“I told them I was disappointed, and I told them every time (in the past) I was quiet,” he said. “Not today. Today I talk.”

-Gordon Wittenmyer, Pioneer Press 3/14/2003

Aaron Gleeman, who had been beating the drum for Santana to be a part of the starting rotation for some time, tried to look on the bright side of the deal.

I’d still rather see Santana in the rotation for 180 innings, but I figure 200 innings of Rogers and 120 innings of Johan is probably better than 180 innings of Johan and 140 innings of Jose Cabrera, Juan Rincon, Kevin Frederick and the other bums the Twins were talking about for their last bullpen spot(s).

It shook out just about the way Gleeman said, with Rogers throwing 195 innings in 2003 and Santana at 158.3. Santana’s innings.

Rogers went 13-8 with a 4.57 ERA in 2003. He signed with the Rangers again in 2004. A 99 ERA+ told the story on Rogers: about league average. On the 2003 Twins, that was enough to make him one of the more reliable starters. The best, however, was Santana.

The veteran Rogers became expendable party due to Santana’s success as a starter. He was finally installed in the rotation in July of 2003, and it was Santana’s 8-2 record with a 3.22 ERA from July 11 on that played a large part to help the Twins to win their second consecutive AL Central Title


2003: Twins and Phillies Make a Deal

December 3, 2010

December 3, 2003

After winning their second consecutive AL Central title, the offseason priority for the Twins was, by many accounts, to make salary room in order to keep closer Eddie Guardado and left fielder Shannon Stewart. Among the players that became expendable was AJ Pierzynski, who was traded to San Francisco in what became Terry Ryan’s most famous trade.

A few weeks later Ryan made another deal that would have almost as much impact for the future of the Twins. Though Eric Milton had missed most of the 2003 season due to a longer-than-expected recovery from knee surgery, he had been the centerpiece of the Twins’ rotation for the past few years. He was thought of as an established, veteran starter – one that might fetch a decent return on the trade market.

The deal was announced on December 3. Aaron Gleeman’s intial reaction reflected what many were thinking – Milton’s injury-proneness made his salary an unnecessary risk for the small market Twins. Unloading him was a good idea, and anything the Twins got in return was considered a bonus. In Carlos Silva, it seemed the Twins had a decent arm for long relief or spot-starting duty. In Nick Punto, the team had an heir apparent to Denny Hocking, who had priced himself out of his utility role with the Twins.

Milton went on to have a decent season with Philadelphia, but it is fair to say that, in retrospect, Carlos Silva was much more valuable than Milton over the next few years (and much more budget-friendly). Look at it this way: in 2007 Milton made over $10 million for 0.1 WAR (he went 0-4 in 31 innings pitched for the Cincinnati Reds). That same year, Silva made about $4.5 million for 2.6 WAR with the Twins.

Silva left as a free agent after the 2007 season. He made a lot of money but had some difficulty matching the success he had with the Twins.

Perhaps the real lasting impact of this deal is in the person of Nick Punto, who just completed his seventh season as Ron Gardenhire’s favorite player. If Punto is indeed done with the Twins (I will believe it when I see him in a different uniform), his legacy is a controversial one to say the least, but it certainly has given us Twins bloggers a lot of fodder over the years.

The player to be named turned out to be pitcher Bobby Korecky, who the Twins let go on waivers in February of 2009 after he made a total of 16 appearances a the major league level.


2004: Santana Beats the Yankees

October 4, 2010

Sure, recent years have not supplied a lot of great post season moments to relive if you are a Twins fan. I have to go back six years to find some success. Here is what I wrote last year:

………

Tuesday October 5, 2004

The Twins, fresh off of their third consecutive AL Central title, opened up the 2004 playoffs with an ALDS game at Yankee Stadium.

Though the Yankees were favored in the series, the Twins sent Johan Santana to the mound. Santana hadn’t lost a game since July 11, a period of time in which he pitched 104.1 innings and had a 1.21 ERA in a league with a 4.64 ERA. Opponents had hit just .154/.216/.228 against Santana over the same stretch. To say that the Twins were confident in a series with two potential Santana starts would be accurate.

Though Santana didn’t look as dominant to most observers in Game 1 against the Yankees, you can’t argue with the results. From LEN3′s game story:

No, Johan Santana was not as scintillating Tuesday as he was during the second half of the season. He didn’t have to be.

Jacque Jones, mentally, wasn’t all there Tuesday as he deals with the death of his father. He didn’t need to be.

But the Twins don’t win because a select few carry the team, which never was more evident than during their 2-0 victory over the Yankees that gave them a 1-0 lead in the American League Division Series. They manufactured a run in the third inning, got an emotional home run from Jones in the sixth, used tremendous defense and held on to gain the early advantage in the series.

“Not a lot of people know, until we make it to the postseason and play guys like these guys, the style we play,” said closer Joe Nathan, who earned the first postseason save of his career. “I don’t know the number of games we’ve won like this during the regular season, but there were a lot of games just like this one.”

It was the Twins’ first postseason shutout since Jack Morris’ masterpiece in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Atlanta.

For the second consecutive year, the Twins have begun an ALDS by beating Mussina, who is 20-3 in regular-season games against the Twins in his career.

Still not impressed? The Twins shut out a team that tied for the major league lead with 242 homers during the regular season while winning 101 games.

Santana couldn’t get a feel for his pitches and didn’t throw many good changeups. Yankees hitters swung at his first pitch nine times through the first six innings, trying to avoid getting deep into counts against him. But Santana scattered nine hits over seven innings, as the Twins set a postseason record for a nine-inning game with five double plays.

“I think, you know, I was able to throw the right pitch at the right time because I know my teammates can make some plays,” Santana said.

And they did.

The Yankees had two men on and one out in the first when Santana struck out Bernie Williams on a 3-2 pitch and catcher Henry Blanco threw out Alex Rodriguez, who was trying to advance to third.

There were runners on first and third in the second inning when Jorge Posada tried to tag up and score from third on John Olerud’s flyout to center. But that’s where three-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter works, and his one-hop throw to Blanco nestled in his glove just before Posada slid into him for the inning-ending out. The Twins bench exploded with excitement.

“Torii came into the dugout yelling, `Even though I can’t hit, I can still play D!’ ” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before throwing his head back in laughter.

The trends were then established. The Yankees had the leadoff hitter reach base in four innings. The Twins had double plays in four innings.

“The thing that may get overlooked is the way Cristian Guzman [six assists] played tonight,” second baseman Michael Cuddyer said. “The plays he made that looked simple were tough, and for him to gobble them up and start double plays were impressive.”

Blanco is proof that statistics and boxscores don’t mean everything. In addition to throwing out Rodriguez in the first and holding on to Hunter’s throw as Posada crashed into him in the second, he clinically bunted Cuddyer over to second in the third inning, and the Twins looked like a well-oiled machine when Shannon Stewart followed with an RBI single to open the scoring.

Unfortunately the success in Game 1 did not carry over for the Twins. They dropped the next three to the Yankees, including Santana’s start on three days rest in Game 4 at the Metrodome. The shut out of the Yankees five years ago today represents the last time the Twins won a postseason game.


2002: Twins Clinch AL Central

September 13, 2010

Sunday September 15, 2002

The Twins were hoping to do it on the field, but circumstances dictated they needed a win and some help to clinch the division on a Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.

In addition to defeating the team that had won six of the last seven Central Division titles, the Twins needed help from, of all teams, the New York Yankees, who were hosting the second place Chicago White Sox.

The Twins handled their end of things when Kyle Lohse, Johan Santana, and Eddie Guardado combined to shut out the Indians at Jacobs Field. Denny Hocking’s two-run single in the top of the seventh was the key play in a 5-0 Twins win. Hocking also handled the final out off the bat of Karim Garcia, a 4-3 putout.

Instead of celebrating on the field, the Twins filed into the visitor’s clubhouse to watch the rest of the Chicago-New York game.

“How else could this end?” Gardenhire asked. “We finally play a great ballgame and get a shutout, and then we have to wait on the Yankees.

“Isn’t that what everybody in baseball does – wait on the Yankees?”

The Twins didn’t have to wait long. The White Sox game, which was in a rain delay, ended prematurely (from LEN3’s game story):

Plastic dropcloths covered the floor and clubhouse stalls. Music was blaring, so no one noticed the Yankees game had ended until pitcher Johan Santana looked up saw the word “postgame” on the television.

“Que paso, man?” he yelled. “Que paso?”

Someone turned up the volume on the TV. Several players yelled, “That’s it!” Doug Mientkiewicz began to throw beer. The celebration was on.

The Twins were on their way to the post season for the first time since 1991.


2005: Twins Win With Just One Hit

August 24, 2010

August 23, 2005

LEN3′s game story from the first of a three-game series:

Johan Santana was brilliant Tuesday night.

Freddy Garcia was nearly unhittable.

But Jacque Jones was heroic.

Jones, with his last swing before leaving town to attend a funeral for his uncle, belted a long home run to center field for the Twins’ first and only hit of the game, giving them a thrilling 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox at the Metrodome.

Garcia pushed for the first White Sox no-hitter since 1991, but his 1-2 curveball hung in Jones’ kitchen. And Jones didn’t miss it, stroking it 423 feet to center as the announced crowd of 33,572 erupted.

“I think that’s what you and I believe, what every fan out there was waiting for,” said Santana, who held the White Sox to three hits over eight shutout innings. “It seemed like that was the way this game was going to end up. Fortunately, it was for us.”

Jones learned during the weekend that his uncle had died, and the right fielder will miss two games to attend the funeral.

He said he did not play with a heavy heart Tuesday, but pointed toward the sky as he touched home plate after his homer.

“When you get on the field, everything goes out the door,” Jones said. “I just have to play. I owe it to these guys. I owe it to myself. None of that outside stuff matters once you cross the line.”

The crowd stayed on its feet for the ninth inning as closer Joe Nathan, who only took about 10 warmup pitches instead of his normal 20 to 25, earned his 32nd save.

“When I was out there in the ninth,” Nathan said, “it was definitely the loudest I’ve heard it here.”

It was the second loss in Chicago’s 106-year history while throwing a one-hitter. It was the second time in Twins history that they’ve won with only one hit: The first was on Sept. 6, 1964, when Zoilo Versalles homered off Boston’s Bill Monbouquette for a 2-1 victory.

I vividly remember watching this game on television- it was one of the few highlights of a tough 2005 season. The pattern had been established by the Twins that year: waste good or great pitching performances  by avoiding runs at all cost. I was convinced that the White Sox would win this game.


2007: 17 K’s

August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I still have the scorecard from this game, the best live pitching performance I have ever seen. Here is what I wrote the day after:

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad), and we were all happy that our season ticket package included Sunday afternoon ballgame at which we could celebrate. We started with breakfast where my seven-month old son nearly downed half a pancake, and I enjoyed a veggie omelet with plenty of jalepeno peppers before we headed for the dome.

The rain was a small annoyance, but it’s worth noting that three years from now we probably wouldn’t have had a Sunday afternoon game to watch due to the weather. My family arrived early at the game, as it turned out before the doors opened. It was a bobble head give away day, so there were plenty of people who had been waiting for quite a while in the rain. We went early thinking that we may get our Gary Gaetti bobble heads, but we weren’t counting on it. As it turned out, the doors opened shortly after we arrived, and every member of my family got a Gary Gaetti doll (except for my son, who got a book).

The Gaetti doll was in conjunction with Gary’s induction into the Twins Hall of Fame which was in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of the 1987 World Series. There was a nice ceremony before the game that included a reenactment of the final out of the 1987 Series, Gaetti to Hrbek, 5-3. It was great to see the ‘87 team on the field, and even better to see Herbie and the G-Man together.

As a child, I watched Gaetti closely to try and learn how to play third base. There were a few Twins’ games at the dome where I followed #8 rather than the ball, watching where he would stand in different situations. I suppose it was a good example to follow, though I personally didn’t really catch on at third base (not for lack of knowledge about how to play third, however).

I commented to my wife during the ceremony about the gloves popping in the background. Usually the Twins have music playing during the warm ups, but when Gaetti was making his induction speech the only background noise was the snap of horse hide hitting leather; the loudest of which was coming from the Twins’ bullpen, where Johan Santana was taking his warm up tosses.

Santana, of course, went on to strikeout nearly as many Rangers as my Dad is years old, a great birthday present that I would like to take credit for.

I am still holding out hope that one day I will see a major league no-hitter in person, but those hopes were dashed when Sammy Sosa blooped a single to lead off the fifth inning- yet another reason not to like Sosa, who performed his traditional heel kick on a long foul ball later in the game. I was pleased that he had to turn around and return to the batter’s box, and was hoping he would then strikeout (kick your heels for that), but he ended up getting another hit off of Santana, representing the only two hits allowed in an otherwise perfect performance by the best pitcher in baseball.

Santana struck out each Ranger at least once; got Wilkerson and Saltalamacchia twice each; and made Young, Byrd, and Laird look foolish three times each. It was the kind of performance you expect from a Little League pitcher who turns out to be older than all of the other kids.

It would have been nice to see Santana finish the game, but with today’s environment I suppose seeing him  in the eighth was a gift (and I actually would have second-guessed management had Santana showed his face for the ninth with 112 pitches thrown). Nathan had a little bit of trouble closing out the win, but did manage to do so by striking out Michael Young to give the Ranger shortstop the dreaded 0-for-4 with 4 k line.

It was a good enough day to make one forget that this team just scored three runs in three games against one of the worst pitching staffs in the league, and that the post season is a faint hope. None of that really mattered on my father’s birthday, the day that Gary Gaetti was recognized and Johan Santana struck out 17.

A couple of months later I wrote this as part of my series at TwinsCards.com on the greatest pitching performances in Twins history:

Sunday August 19, 2007
HHH Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN

The 2007 season was a bit of a downer for the Twins and their fans, but it did produce two pitching performances that are worthy of this list that I started a few months before either of them happened.

The first came on a Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome. It happened to be the weekend of the 1987 reunion, and the game actually fell on a day in which Gary Gaetti was to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Fans waited in line on a rainy day to get the Gaetti bobblehead, and filed in to see what was at the time a .500 baseball team try to make its way back into the AL Central race before it was too late.

The other draw, of course, was Johan Santana, whose starts had become events worth seeing a few years ago when he won his first Cy Young award. Once the ceremony honoring Gaetti was complete, and the final out of the 1987 World Series reenacted, Johan took the mound to the familiar sound of Rob Thomas and Santana’s “Smooth” – the song that still brings the best pitcher in baseball to the mound at the Metrodome.

It was a favorable matchup for Santana from the start. The Rangers had an above average offense, but were a collection of free swingers who were prone to striking out. By season’s end, Texas hitters had compiled 1,224 K’s, second most in the league. Santana, of course a strikeout pitcher, took advantage of the free swinging nature of the lineup early and often.

The Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors, of course, but in the end there really wasn’t much they could have done. Santana’s command was clear as he hit the corners with his fastball, change up, and seemingly whatever pitch he decided to throw. Two K’s recorded in the first inning, three in the second, and two more in the third. The rhythm was clear and it wasn’t looking good for Texas. Santana was perfect until the top of the fifth inning, when a Sammy Sosa soft liner found its way to a safe landing in left field. No matter, Santana retired the next three, including two more strikeouts to run the game total to 11 after five innings.

The Twins got the only run they would need in the second inning, when Michael Cuddyer hit a lead off home run to left center.

After trying something new and retiring the Rangers in order without a strikeout in the sixth, Santana struck out three more in the seventh, leaving Sosa’s two out double stranded at second.

With 14 strikeouts under his belt, Santana came out for the eighth inning even though his pitch count was at the point where he might normally be removed. Prior to Santana’s performance, the most strikeouts recorded in a game by a Twins pitcher was 15, done four times, the last by Bert Blyleven in 1986. Santana equaled that mark when he got Gerald Laird swinging for the third time in the game. He surpassed the mark when he got Nelson Cruz to swing and miss. It took him just four pitches to get number 17, when he got Jarrod Saltalamacchia swinging.

Santana pumped his fist and tipped his cap to the cheering crowd on his way to the dugout, a sign that he was not likely to return to make a run at the major league record of 20 K’s. From the Pioneer Press:

“I really didn’t make a decision. He did a curtain call before I even got down there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after Santana pitched eight record-breaking innings, then walked into history and allowed Joe Nathan to cement the Twins’ 1-0 victory over Texas. “I said ‘Andy, what does that mean?’ (Pitching coach Rick Anderson) said, ‘I guess he’s done.’ ”


2001: Gold Glove First Baseman

August 9, 2010

Friday August 10, 2001

Straight from Charlton’s Baseball Chronology

In the Twins 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay‚ Minnesota 1B Doug Mientkiewicz makes all 3 outs in the bottom of the 2nd without touching first base. The Devil Rays have Toby Hall on 3B and Randy Winn on 1B with no outs in the inning when Aubrey Huff hits a weak grounder to Mientkiewicz. The first sacker crosses the diamond to chase Hall back to third then tags out Winn who had run all the way around from first. Mientkiewicz then catches Hall wandering off the base to complete an unassisted double play. The next Rays’ batter‚ Jared Sandberg‚ hits a towering foul pop-up that Mientkiewicz caught for the third out.

The chronology is a day off. According to baseball-reference.com, this actually happened in the Twins’ 4-2 loss on August 10, not the 4-3 loss on August 11.

Of course, those of us who were paying attention in 2001, remember this as the period of time in which the Twins slumped their way out of first place. The loss to the Rays was the start of a four-game sweep at the hand of the Rays, and an eight-game losing streak that would move the Twins from a first-place tie with Cleveland to a 4.5 game deficit.

What’s worse: after play on July 19, the Twins had a three-game lead in the division. From July 20 to August 21, the Twins went 7-24, and were effectively out of the race 5.5 games behind Cleveland.


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