The final week of the MLB's regular season has arrived and that means the Twins will undoubtedly celebrate as champions of the AL Central division one of the next seven days.
Entering play Monday, the Twins' magic number is three. That means any combination of Twins wins and Indians losses totaling three will clinch Minnesota's first division title since 2010.
The Twins lead the Indians by four games, which sets up the following possible clinching scenarios for Minnesota over the final week.
- If the Twins go 0-6, the Indians need to go 4-2 to tie or 5-1 to win the division.
- If the Twins go 1-5, the Indians need to go 5-1 to tie or 6-0 to win the division.
- If the Twins go 2-4, the Indians need to go 6-0 to tie. They can't win.
- If the Twins go 3-3, the Indians cannot win nor tie the AL Central.
How the Twins clinch Wednesday
Neither the Twins nor Indians play Monday, so the earliest the Twins could clinch is Wednesday. That could happen if the Twins beat the Tigers Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Indians lose Tuesday or Wednesday against the the White Sox. It could also happen with one Twins win Tuesday or Wednesday paired with two Indians losses.
How the Twins clinch Thursday
If the Twins sweep the Tigers they clinch the division. That means wins on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If the Twins win two of three against Detroit, they clinch so long as the Indians lose one of their three games against the White Sox. If the Twins win just one of three against the Tigers, they would need the Indians to lose twice to Chicago. If the Twins get swept, they can still clinch Thursday if the Indians get swept by the Chicago.
Should we worry if the Twins haven't clinched by Friday?
If the Twins get swept by Detroit and the Indians sweep Chicago, then both teams would enter their final series of the season with the Twins leading the Indians by one game in the AL Central.
It'd definitely be reason for pause, but even so, the Indians finish the season with three road games against the likely playoff-bound Nationals, while the Twins face the Royals, whom they are 11-4 against this season.
We'll deal with that hypothetical situation if it arises, but it doesn't appear all that likely.
Will Twins face Yankees or Astros in the playoffs?
If the Twins win the AL Central they will likely be headed to New York or Houston – the team that finishes runner-up in the AL standings – for a best-of-five series in the ALDS.
Houston (102-54) leads the Yankees (102-55) by a half-game entering play Tuesday (both are off Monday). Houston also has an easier schedule, albeit all six are on the road, against the Mariners and Angels. The Yankees have to play the Rays in Tampa Bay for two and then close the regular season on the road against Rangers for three.
It'll be tight, but the odds favor the Twins and Yankees meeting up once again in the playoffs.