With a win Sunday afternoon on the back of one Francisco Liriano (coinciding with an untimely Chicago win) the Twins hang precariously to their two-and-a-half game deficit. So...two-and-a-half game deficit...three-game series. That doesn't leave much room for error.
It seems a bit bizarre to still be discussing our boys and October at this point, what with the lack of wins and everything. But bizarre as it may be, the truth is that this is one final opportunity to grab their own destiny by the proverbial horns; one last-ditch chance to prove that, at the very least, they're the best team in the American League Central.
What makes it interesting is that there will be no tie after the regular season is over, not like Colorado and San Diego last year. With the Sox only playing 161 games it's all or nothing. Here's how the reality of the situation plays out...
Twins Get Swept, 0 games to 3: White Sox increase division lead to 5.5 games. Season over. Like a Band-Aid, clean off. Painless it would be not...but done it would be.
Twins Lose Series, 1 game to 2: Season over. Those results move the Twins from a 2.5 game gap to a 3.5 game gap, and with just three games left on the schedule the math just doesn't work out. That's elimination.
Twins Win Series, 2 games to 1: Cutting into the gap by a game, the Twins would still have to pick up two games on the White Sox. This means Minnesota would need to sweep the Royals in the final three games of the season, while the White Sox, at a minimum, drop two of three to Cleveland. In this scenario the Twins would have to go 5-1 to finish the season, while the Sox go no better than 2-4, in order to win the Central crown for the 5th time in seven years.
Twins Sweep Series, 3 games to 0: This is the best possible outcome, because in reality it's the only outcome in which the Twins would still have a good chance of winning the division. To retain that slim 0.5 game lead, they'd need to win at least as many games as Chicago over the last three. If the Sox win one, the Twins would have to win one; you get the idea. In this case, the best the White Sox could do and still NOT win the division would be 2-4...which of course means the Twins would have to go 5-1.
As it stands, the Twins have roughly a 13% chance of making the playoffs, which is technically a generous estimate since I'm rounding up. This is a dire situation, and I have no delusions about this being a severe and obstacle-ridden climb, but even with just six games left on the schedule the Minnesota Twins are still in the hunt for October.
And I can't give up yet.