On Aug. 16, the Twins defeated the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Their record was 59-58.
They then entered probably the most grueling stretch of their season: two road trips featuring 10 games in 11 days apiece sandwiching a six-game homestand. Twenty of the 26 games would be against fellow playoff contenders, and four of the series would be against teams leading its division at the time.
The Twins completed that stretch Sunday with a 76-68 record. They not only survived that gauntlet, they thrived, going 16-10. They leapfrogged the Orioles and Angels in the wild card chase and stayed essentially even with the Rangers. They did this despite the prolonged absence of closer Glen Perkins and the hamstring issues of cleanup hitter Miguel Sano.
One of my wife's co-workers asked me a while back: Should we take this playoffs talk about the Twins seriously, or are they going to fade? I don't remember exactly what I said then, but my reply today would be: If they were going to fade, those road trips would have been the time and the places.
The Twins now have six series left on the schedule, four of them against sub-.500 clubs, a fifth against the somewhat fading Angels and the sixth, concluding the season, against a Kansas City club that figures to be more interested in setting itself for the post season tournament than in padding its regular season stats at that point.
They are in good position, Now they see if they can finish the job.