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Opinion

Twins playoff push looking similar to 2006

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September 24, 2009

If you were to look closely at this year’s A.L. Central race, you might find how similar it is to the 2006 season. It all starts with the team the Twins are chasing, the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit led the division for most of the year, only to lose it in the final game of the season. This year the Tigers have led the division for most of the year and are starting to falter losing nine of their last 14 games, letting the Twins come from being seven games back from the division lead to only two and a half.

Catching a division opponent late in the season isn’t anything new for the Twins. In both ‘06 and ‘08 the Twins started off the season slow and heated up after the All-Star Break. Last year, the Twins reeled in the Chicago White Sox late in the season and tied on the last day of the regular season, only to the lose the tiebreaker.

Also, the Twins are no stranger to winning the division since Ron Gardenhire was hired in 2002. They won the division four of the seven years he has been manager. If the Twins were to catch the Tigers this year it would be his fifth division title with the Twins and first since the 2006 season.

This year, the Twins and the Tigers have easy schedules the rest of the way, but play one more series against one another. It is a four-game series that is played at Comerica Park in Detroit. It looks to be the deciding series on who wins the A.L. Central.

The story developing between these two teams is quite different. While I mentioned earlier about the Tigers suddenly going cold – losing nine of their last fourteen games – the Twins have heated up, winning eight of their last nine games and took two out of three games against the Tigers last weekend at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The division winner in the A.L. Central will most likely have to play the A.L. East division winner – the New York Yankees, who clinched their division title on Tuesday this week. The Twins and Tigers did not fare well against the Yankees this year; the Tigers went 1-6 while Twins went 0-7.

A little over a week of regular season baseball is left. What we know is the division winner will have the worst record of all the division winners in both the American League and National League. What we also know is no team has ran away with the division this year and it is the only legit pennant race this year, as the rest of the divisions and wild card race look to be locked up and ready to go for playoffs in October. What we don’t know is who wants the division more – the division-leading Tigers, who haven’t won the division in 22 years, or the chaser, the Twins, who have been in this position before three times in the last four years.

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.