The Minnesota Twins' hopes of exorcising their ghosts of October's past are fading by the minute as the New York Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the American League Divisional Series over the weekend.
As the Yankees dominated the Twins to the tune of 27 strikeouts in the past two games, many Twins fans are having flashbacks of the 2000s when Minnesota was routinely tortured by the bleacher creatures that occupied Yankee Stadium. With the series appearing to be over, the one hope for Twins fans is that a return trip home could help their favorite team take a deep breath.
So far this year, that hasn't been the case. The Twins' overall record at Target Field looks pretty good at 46-35, but that doesn't hide how much Minnesota has struggled at home during the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, the Twins have dropped eight of their 12 series at home, compiling a record of 17-19.
Part of this has been the Twins' injury woes as they have lost Byron Buxton and Michael Pineda since the All-Star break. In addition, the Twins current pitchers such as Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and others have had a steep decline in their performance.
Not only that, but the Twins were better on the road this season, leading the majors with 55 road victories.
But what if the people attending the games were part of the problem? As someone who has attended games at Target Field throughout the years, it's routinely been lauded as a baseball bar. Fans can come and go, grab a couple of $10 beers in the Barrio and take a quick glance at the action on the field.
A lot of that has to do with the quality of the team that was put on the field. Since Target Field opened in 2010, it has hosted one playoff game prior to Monday's Game 3 with the Yankees.
However, it was my last Twins game at Target Field that made me question some things. As I sat in the stands for a game for the first time in forever (I usually wander around and socialize while watching the game), I noticed that many of the fans weren't really into the game (part of the reason is the Twins didn't generate much offense).
As the Twins made a late push in a game with the Cleveland Indians, who were pushing Minnesota for the lead in the American League Central, some fans stood up to cheer on the team. As the Twins came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, a man behind him screamed "Hey! Game's on!" which forced the other fans to sit down and put their hands in their pocket.
I'd love to say this was an isolated incident, but when I came home later, I found out that while another fan stood up to cheer, a fan had thrown a mini-donut in disgust that someone would dare make noise for the Twins in the bottom of the ninth inning in an important divisional game.
Which leads me to ask: How much of a home-field advantage is there if fans aren't willing to get in the game? If things go south in a hurry in Game 3, are Twins fans going to quit and give up on the season?
Hopefully, these things won't come to fruition, but if the Twins are going to complete the improbable comeback to advance to the American League Championship Series, the atmosphere at Target Field is going to need a facelift beginning Monday night.