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Down the stretch they come...

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Finishing strong would be a pleasant change from previous losing campaigns

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Since 2010, the Minnesota Twins have had five 90+ loss seasons (ouch). One of the hallmarks of those sad-sack campaigns? A propensity for slouching towards the finish during the dog days of August and the “stretch run” of September/October.

Observe:

-2011 Aug/Sept/Oct: 13-41; .241 winning percentage (almost seems incomprehensible considering the magic of 2010)

-2012: 22-37; .373%

-2013: 21-37; .362%

-2014: 22-33; .400%

-2016: 19-39; .328%

Minnesota Twins v Chicago White Sox
They didn’t call it “Total System Failure” for nothing, folks.
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

On one hand, the late-season records of those clubs didn’t matter in the slightest, as everyone and their cousin knew the playoffs weren’t going to be achieved as the calendar flipped to August. From a strictly analytical perspective, the lowest optimal win total is one game better than the runner-up playoff team, so anything lower than that might as well be digging a hole to China.

Yet, at the same time, winning baseball is simply more fun for fans (certainly) and players (presumably), even in a lost cause. Though I inherently realize that no amount of wins down the stretch will propel the 2021 squad into the postseason, I still walk out of Target Field with a spring in my step when they win and trudge out silently when they lose. I think that is the nature of the human competitive spirit.

This year, the Twins have—rather remarkably—turned the tables on their usual summer-into-fall doldrums: the month of August was their first winning stanza. Even stranger? Those 31 days included series against Cincinnati, Houston, Tampa Bay, New York, Boston, Milwaukee, & Chicago (both of ‘em). One can’t help but remember back to April & May, when the schedule was filled with bottom-feeders and yet this club couldn’t buy a series win. Now, with the starting rotation completely stripped of its OEM parts and the offense minus a Broomstick (and mostly without Buxton), the team has finally shown signs of life.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
Having a little fun in the Motor City makeup game
Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Again, nothing the Twins will do in September can turn the fortunes of 2021 around—that ship has sailed. But there’s still some baseball fun to be had even as the old pigskin gets tossed around too. The Twins will travel to TB to catch up with Nellie, have two series with Toronto (maybe facing Berrios at least once?), and take a quick jaunt to Wrigley’s friendly confines. If the team can continue looking like a competent major league ball club through game #162? All the better.