Wednesday, October 4, 2017

And so it ends

There was an obvious path to victory Tuesday for the Twins: get an early lead and have Ervin Santana, their best starting pitcher, have one of his good games.

The hitters did their part, more or less. They plated three runs in the first and drove Yankees starter and ace Luis Severino from the game six batters in. But they left a couple ducks on the pond in that inning, and they didn't cash in enough in the third, and after that the Yankees bullpen gave them nothing.

And Santana was far from having one of his good games.

So be it. The 2017 Twins were far from championship quality. It took a watered-down format to get them into the October tournament. I can root for them and be disappointed in Tuesday's outcome and still recognize that reality.

I think it was the FiveThirtyEight website that called this the most loaded playoff field ever. Three teams -- Cleveland and Houston in the American League and Los Angeles in the National -- won at least 100 games, and Washington won 97. Three more teams won at least 92. Colorado and the Twins don't really fit in this field.

The 2017 season was still a good one for the Twins organization. They went from 59 wins to 85, from the worst record in baseball to the final postseason berth. That is a genuine accomplishment.

But if 100 wins (and not 95) is a genuine new standard for quality, the Twins are 15 short of that. And it will be more difficult to add those 15 than it was to add this year's 26.

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