Forgive me for being obvious.
At no point since 2009 has every game, every inning, every pitch mattered more than they matter right now for the Minnesota Twins. In 2009 the Twins were trailing the Tigers by seven games on September 6, and by today's date - September 18 - they were still trailing Detroit by three games. After play on the 18th, they were 75-72.
A win tonight would push the Twins to 76-71, either holding them just 1.5 games back of the Houston Astros or, should the baseball gods be kind, bring Minnesota within one half of a game of the second Wild Card spot. Yes, the Twins have now lost three in a row and find themselves in a precarious spot, but this race is far from determined.
Pulling out of their funk tonight would be ideal timing. Minnesota is 5-5 in their last ten, which feels awful but is still three games better than Houston's 2-8 mark. Since August 2, the Astros are 17-24. If you think the Twins are sputtering, Houston is holding onto the cliff by their fingernails.
The Twins need to win, starting tonight. They need to take advantage of a struggling team directly above them in the standings, because if Houston continues to struggle there's a good chance that by this time next week the Twins could be in control of that second Wild Card spot.
Or, y'know, they could be looking up at both Houston and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (of California of North America of the planet Earth of the Milky Way). But I'm feeling positive this morning, so let's not think about that.