Twins president Dave St. Peter is excited about his club’s expected hosting of an opening American League Wild Card series starting October 3 at Target Field. Minnesota should have a couple of clear advantages in the best two of three games series.
The starting pitching tandem of Pablo Lopez and Sonny Gray, with their experience and talent, is an asset past Twins playoff teams have often been without. “We have enough depth with the starting staff, and enough talent at the top of the rotation, that I think teams are concerned about matching up against the Twins,” St. Peter told Sports Headliners. “And that hasn’t always been the case in the postseason where we maybe haven’t had the starting pitching depth.”
Who would the game three starter be in the playoffs? Nobody of authority is saying right now but it’s clear the Twins can choose between two solid starters in Kenta Maeda and Joe Ryan.
The other first round advantage for the AL Central Division champion Twins is they will be playing all games at home. “We would much rather play at home and have players in their own beds in an environment that they’re very comfortable,” St. Peter said. “But the reality is we’re going to have to pitch well. We’re going to have to play good defense. We’re going to have to get some timely hitting if we’re going to win. We recognize other teams are in the postseason for a reason. But would we rather play at home? Yes, there’s no question about that.”
The trade that brought Lopez to the club in the offseason in exchange for 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez was controversial for many Twins fans. Arraez, now on his way to a NL batting title, has come through for the Marlins but so too has Lopez who has given the club a second quality veteran starter to pair with Gray in the regular season and playoffs.
“Pablo Lopez has been everything we thought he would be and more,” St. Peter said. “We feel like it’s a win-win trade probably for both teams because Louie really impacted the Marlins in a lot of special ways.”
St. Peter is excited anticipating October baseball. There will be an opportunity to see how far Minnesota can advance while ending the franchise’s streak of 18 consecutive postseason losses.
His enthusiasm dates back to when the club left spring training, but he believes the Twins are only now beginning to play their best baseball after a first half to the season characterized by hitting and run scoring woes while the pitching was excellent. The offense, including clutch hitting, has complemented the pitching as the Twins moved toward winning the Central Division. “…I think we’re seeing what this team can be, and that’s why I am so excited about the month of October,” St. Peter said.
Injuries are always present, though, and there will be scrutiny in coming days as to who is on the postseason roster. Personnel may include pitchers Brock Stewart and Chris Paddack who could add quality to a bullpen that St. Peter already has confidence in.
The Twins will accomplish a baseball “hat trick’ if key regulars Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis are all able to play. Hopefully, Buxton’s knee problem will at least allow him to DH even if he can’t play center field and be aggressive running bases. He has been out of the lineup since August 1 and first was sidelined with a hamstring strain.
Buxton has played in 85 games and will again miss the 100-game target. Only once in Buxton’s nine-year MLB career has he played in 100 games.
Still, St. Peter remains optimistic about the 29-year-old talent who is having difficulty with the same right knee that has troubled him in the past and been one of multiple injuries that have limited his career development. St. Peter is hopeful about Buxton playing in the postseason and “we expect he’ll be a huge part of the 2024 Twins.”
Correa has been able to play “gold glove” caliber shortstop most of the season, despite having plantar fasciitis in his left foot, St. Peter said. “He’s been a pros pro. So, we’re very lucky to have him in our organization and ultimately, we’re going to need him in order to be in a position to make an October run.”
Correa went on the 10-day Injured List last Wednesday. It seemed like a move to allow him to rest his foot for the playoffs, with the Twins near clinching the division title.
Lewis’ left hamstring has sidelined him for games where Mr. Grand Slam might have been building a stronger resume for the AL Rookie of the Year. “…I can’t imagine there’s a rookie in baseball that’s had more of an impact on his team than Royce Lewis,” St. Peter said.
Lewis has been playing third base, but in the years ahead perhaps he will move to center field where he played briefly last season before tearing an ACL in his right knee. “He’s certainly a guy that brings versatility,” St. Peter said. “We know he can go play shortstop. We know he can play second base. He certainly could play the outfield. But that will be up to the manager over the long haul.”
In partnership with the Star Tribune the Twins will give away Homer Hankies at postseason games at Target Field. The promotion dates back to the 1987 World Series in the Metrodome.
That building, much maligned by media and fans over the years, remains the only facility in the nation to host a MLB All-Star Game, World Series (two), Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four while also being home to MLB and NFL franchises, a Big Ten football team and for one season an NBA club.
It was a sad loss for the football Gophers in Evanston last night, blowing a 31-10 fourth quarter lead and losing 37-34 in overtime. Minnesota was outcoached by Northwestern late in the game and the players underperformed. Defensive breakdowns in pass coverage are alarming and there are too many inconsistent moments on offense.
Second year starting guard Ed Ingram said today’s game for the 0-2 Vikings is “definitely a must win.” The offense has to improve its consistency running and passing.
“We gotta get it (the offense) going,” he said. “Once we get it a lot of teams (are) going to be afraid of us.”
Ingram has struggled during his NFL career and admitted coming into camp last year as a rookie was a “little scary.” Knowing technique and the system now has increased his confidence. His intent is to build on a finish last season where he improved.
Mike Max, WCCO TV sports director who did news reporting during the social unrest in Minneapolis in 2020, is the latest guest on “Behind the Game.” The Gaylord, Minnesota native played baseball and basketball in college at Hamline. The show is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeuJ4x7npHQ&t=898sComments Welcome