Despite sweeping the White Sox, The Twins find themselves three games behind Detroit with only ten games left to play. The Tigers swept the Indians while the Twins were idle tonight, and thus picked up a half game in the standings. The odds of the Twins actually beating the Tigers and winning the division are pretty long at this point, but it's not impossible and stranger things have happened. More importantly though, the Twins have been playing much better baseball at a crucial point in the season. They have now won nine of their past ten games, and are six games over .500 for the first time this season. And the lineup will get an enormous boost when Denard Span returns on Friday. If nothing else, the final week of the season should be pretty exciting.
- More playoff teams is not more better
"Essentially the only teams thinking about tomorrow in a September in which the NFL, college football and golf all blitz our consciousness are the eight teams that will be playing in October. So baseball, for 22 franchises, is either tepid or in full autumnal frost, with little momentum heading into the playoffs.
For the record, I'm not a huge fan of the current Wild Card format, either. I tend to agree with Joe Posnanski:
"I know I'm in the vast minority of people who don't like the wild card, but I don't like the wild card. And it really has nothing to do with tradition or the purity of the game or any of that nonsense. No, to me the wild card has taken away a lot of the fun.
This year provides a great example why. The Red Sox are five games back of the Yankees with two weeks left. The Yankees are teetering. The Red Sox are coming on. These should be an amazing two weeks as those two teams have to play their guts out just to make the playoffs. Every day should be filled with drama. The upcoming three-game series between the two should have all the emotion of a World Series. Monday's night's excruciating Red Sox loss to Kansas City -- a game in which Boston blew TWO six-run leads -- should be absolutely devastating. Instead, there's no drama at all. They're both making the playoffs. They're playing for the right to face the AL Central winner instead of the Angels. Not exactly nail-biting stuff."
Besides, it isn't as though there are rarely any pennant races under the current format. This is the first season in recent memory when almost all of the division races were wrapped up this early. Most of the races came down to the wire last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. And if the Wild Card itself has taught us nothing, it's that adding more teams to the mix does not necessarily add to the drama. If anything it just makes the postseason drag on even longer, and I doubt very much that MLB wants the World Series to end sometime around Thanksgiving.
- Francisco Liriano to start on Sunday
Keith Law notes (behind ESPN's pay wall, of course) that control is often the last thing to come back after Tommy John surgery, and not surprisingly, it's the thing F-bomb has struggled with the most this season. His velocity has been back up in the mid-90s, and his stuff is still absolutely filthy, but his lack of control has made him very hittable. It's one of the reasons he's been so inconsistent this season, brilliant in some starts and awful in others (and really more awful than not). Liriano still has enormous potential, however, and the Twins have been understandably reluctant to give up on him as a starter. He should get a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation next year.
- That Mauer guy is pretty good