At only 4.5 games behind the Indians for first place in the American League Central, it's a bit surprising that nobody is talking about the Twins as a potential division champ.
Will it be a shock to see the Twins in first place when the final 50 games of the regular season are said and done? Of course. But Cleveland and Kansas City have slumped since burying the Twins a bit when Minnesota struggled against the Dodgers and Athletics after the All-Star break.
On Wednesday, the Indians traded with the Mets for Jay Bruce (.258, 29 HR, 75 RBI) to try and jumpstart an offense that's been a disappointment. Like Cleveland.com's Paul Hoynes wrote, Edwin Encarnacion was supposed to be the big rig in the middle of the order but he's only had one good month. What's worse is that All-Star closer Andrew Miller is hurt and on the DL while right-handed bullpen power arms Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen are showing signs of wear and tear.
Bruce is a nice addition but he's essentially a desperation addition to replace All-Star Michael Brantley, who hit the DL with a sprained ankle earlier this week.
In Kansas City, Alex Gordon's awful season (.196, 5 HR, 34 RBI) has led to his benching, All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is out another 2-3 weeks and the Royals have gone from the hottest team in baseball to a team that's lost eight of 10.
Also helping the Twins is the fact that they have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the AL, according to MLB.com. Sadly, the Royals have a slightly easier schedule.
Wild Card chances
It could get really interesting when the Twins open September with 10 straight games against the Royals (7 of the 10) and Rays – two of the teams the Twins are chasing for the second Wild Card.
There's more going in favor of the Twins, too.
- Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios start two of three games in Detroit this weekend.
- Not scheduled to face Corey Kluber in Cleveland next week.
- Finish August with eight games against the last place White Sox and three games against the last place Blue Jays.
The team to watch over the next 10 days is Seattle as they could wreak havoc in the hunt for the Wild Card with games against the Angels, Orioles and Rays.
Ultimately, a 10-game road trip against the Yankees, Tigers and Indians in mid-September could spell the end of the Twins' hopes even if they're in the mix at that point. But the fact that they haven't fallen off the edge of the earth (shout out to you, Kyrie Irving), is a testament to their resiliency.