The Minnesota Twins clinched a postseason berth Wednesday by virtue of the Los Angeles Angels' 6-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox, capping off one of the best single-season turnarounds in Major League Baseball history.
This marks the franchise's first postseason appearance since 2010. The Twins know they will play in the American League Wild Card game on Oct. 3, a showdown that will likely come against the New York Yankees barring a stunning collapse by the Boston Red Sox.
Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East is two following Wednesday's 10-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Twins went an MLB-worst 59-103 last season, finishing 35.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central. It was the first time Minnesota has lost at least 100 games in a season since 1982.
No team in MLB history has gone from at least 100 losses to the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said coming into Tuesday's game against the Indians he didn't want his team to get ahead of themselves thinking about the postseason.
"I think part of your job as manager is guarding against being comfortable," he said, via MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. "You don't want to add pressure or anything like that. Comfortable is when you don a T-shirt and a cap and say you're going to play next week. That's the moment we're trying to get to, but we're not there yet."
Defense has been the biggest year-to-year improvement for the Twins. They went from 28th in MLB with minus-49 defensive runs saved last season to 15th with 11 defensive runs saved in 2017, per FanGraphs.
The lineup, featuring young stars like Byron Buxton and Max Kepler with veterans Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer, has also been much better. To date, they've piled up 798 runs after managing 722 all of last season.
Third baseman Miguel Sano was having a breakout season. He was named to the American League All-Star team and has a .267/.256/.514 slash line in 111 games, though he hasn't played since Aug. 11 due to a stress reaction in his shin.
Even though the Twins are uncertain if Sano will be back for the postseason, they have been able to keep up their stellar play for six weeks without him to keep their championship hopes alive.
In a season that saw the Dodgers have the best 50-game stretch in MLB history and Indians set a new AL record with 22 straight wins, the Twins quietly went about their business to complete a historic turnaround.
Now, the Twins have the opportunity to celebrate their postseason berth and get ready to make a run at their first World Series title since 1991.
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