October 2, 2023

Round 1 is set: Twins host Toronto on Tuesday

The regular season came to an end on Sunday, which means we can finally focus on what’s really important: the first round of the playoffs between the Twins and Blue Jays.

For the Twins they have two goals: to win a postseason game for the first time since 2004, and once that’s accomplished, to win their first playoff series since 2002.

The Twins were 3-3 against the Blue Jays this season. They won one of three games at home in May, then took two of three games from the Jays on the road in June, winning 3-2 and 9-4.

The Twins got a final tune up on Sunday, losing 3-2 to the Colorado Rockies in extra innings.

As the game stretched into the 11th inning, it was clear manager Rocco Baldelli was not going to waste any more relievers before postseason play begins, so in went position player and master impersonator* Jordan Luplow in a 2-2 game.

This typically only happens in blowout losses, but it was clear that Baldelli was trying to end the game. It didn’t take long because Luplow threw a wild pitch and a runner on third base came home to score. Ballgame.

Extra innings …

-The Twins finished the season with a record of 87-75, nine games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.

-Whether pitcher Dallas Keuchel makes the postseason roster no longer has to be considered because he has wound up on the 15-day injured list with a right calf strain.

-Starter Bailey Ober was in playoff form Sunday. He allowed a run on two hits with nine strikeouts over six-plus innings.

-On Oct. 1, 1967, the Boston Red Sox again edged the Twins 5-3 to win the American League pennant, their first since 1946.

The Minneapolis Tribune lede (which happened to be a wire story):

“A city hungry for a baseball pennant for 21 years exploded with jubilation on Sunday when the Boston Red Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins.”

The Boston Globe coverage: The Globe devoted the entire front page to the win, running four bylines on the cover.

The Bud Collins lede:

“As the ball came down in Rico Petrocelli’s glove for the last and final out, the town went up in the air like a beautiful balloon. Perhaps it will never come down. Red Sox euphoria is a gas that can keep you higher than helium. Or pot.”

The Clif Keane lede:

“It started out to be a rebuilding year, but it grew faster than a castle in the sky. The Red Sox, with all their youth, are in the World Series after beating the Twins 5-3 at Fenway Park on Sunday.”

The Harold Kaese lede:

“Like a rocket that starts from a spark, traces a fiery path into the night until it explodes in a shower of light, the Red Sox have dazzled a nation by winning the American League pennant.”

The Will McDonough lede:

“Tom Yawkey tried his best to fight back the tears. He stood near the back door in Dick Williams’ office, watching his manager being interviewed and trying to stay in the background.”

*I call Luplow the master impersonator for his imitation of closer Craig Kimbrel during his stint on the mound in a 13-2 loss to the Phillies.

Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.