The team I think we all knew the Twins could be, a team that would make an immediate impact with its hitting, pitching and bullpen, finally showed up on Oct. 3, 2021, the final game of the season.
It was hard not to feel that way watching them play on Sunday. Luis Arraez, the best pure hitter on the Twins in years, started things off with a single. He was followed by Byron Buxton, who, when healthy, is one of the best players in the game. Buxton doubled, Jorge Polanco hit a three-run home run, Josh Donaldson showed his veteran poise by earning a free pass to first base and Max Kepler hit a single to send Donaldson to third base. Miguel Sano followed Kepler with a single and finally rookie Nick Gordon grounded out, but beat the throw at first base to allow another run to score.
When it was all over in the top of the first inning, the Twins led the Kansas City Royals 5-0. They would go on to beat the Royals 7-3, getting a two-run home run from Buxton in the fifth, his 19th.
Starter Charlie Barnes lasted all of two-plus innings, and I doubt whether Mr. Barnes has a long-term role with the Twins, but the bullpen, which had struggled earlier in the season, was sensational on Sunday. Four relievers went six-plus innings with 11 strikeouts, including Jorge Alcala, who got four outs, three of them via the strikeout.
The Twins finished 2021 at 73-89.
“We have work to do,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told MLB.com. “We know it. We are going to own it going forward. We owe it to the fans. We owe it to the organization. We all know that. I think everyone in our locker room right now knows that. No one is sidestepping that. We owe it to the supporters of the Minnesota Twins to do better going forward, and we’re going to step on it this offseason and get to it.”
Third baseman Donaldson also shared his thoughts with MLB.com.
“Really, I’ve been proud of the way our team’s competed all the way through,” Donaldson said. “Even though we are in last place, we’ve been giving it hell for 162 now. Nobody’s laid down. Nobody’s said die. We went out there and we played, and we played hard.”
-The Twins had a losing record in April, May, June, July and September. They were 14-13 in August and 2-1 in October. They were 39-50 during the first half of the season and 34-39 after it.
-Within the division, the Twins were 11-8 against Cleveland, 11-8 versus Detroit, but were 9-10 against the Royals and 6-13 versus the Chicago White Sox, who won the division. The Twins also were 1-6 against the New York Yankees.
-The St. Louis Browns* lost for the final time on Sunday, 12-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays, who did not make the postseason. The Browns were 52-110. Four teams lost 100 or more games this season. The Browns, Rangers, Pirates and Diamondbacks.
*The Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.