MLB: Can Twins end their long wait for the World Series?
The Minnesota Twins last won the World Series in 1991, but with a run of three play-off appearances in the last four years, can they go further this time?
The downside to the argument is that the Twins haven’t won a play-off series since 2002 and, after they traded away Nelson Cruz and Jose Berrios following a down year with the bat in 2021, could they trade in the big market and get a huge name.
Correa deal added to Twins strength
Well, to be fair to the front office, they did just that and got a top-class free agent in Carlos Correa, signing a three-year $105million deal.
He has recently added to an excellent A-B-C combination, stacked at the top, Luis Arreaz, Bryon Buxton and the aforementioned Correa.
Buxton, this week's American League Player, hit a two-run shot to win the game against the Seattle Mariners in the series opener at T-Mobile Park.
Arraez is an early leader in the race to be the American League batting title and his 2-4 performance with a walk on Monday boosted his batting average to .362.
Buxton's 18th home run of the season marked his seventh in his last nine games and pushed him to second in the Majors behind the New York Yankee, Aaron Judge, who has 24. Correa, is batting .384 since the 28th April.
Twins recovering from 2021 struggles
The Twins took a backward step last season. The club followed up back-to-back AL Central titles with a last-place finish in 2021.
That meant they finished behind two sides who are part of a rebuild, the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals and that wasn't good enough.
So, Minnesota required a rethink and the Twins acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronny Henriquez in exchange for Maitch Garver in a trade with the Texas Rangers.
Then, the back office sent Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt to the New York Yankees in exchange for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela.
They also traded for right-handed starter Sonny Gray in exchange for Francis Peguero and Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. Buxton signed a long-term deal also.
The team have an OPS of .738, which is seventh in Major League Baseball at present, but the fly in the ointment is their pitching, which is 13th in the Majors with an earned average of 3.83.
Ryan and Archer leading the way
However, the deadline deal in 2021 that sent Cruz to Tampa Bay netted the Twins, Joe Ryan, he has been the staff ace this season, along with Chris Archer.
Ryan has cranked up his slider this season to great effect. The issue for the 26-year-old is his production from the start tends to wane a little, but that is something that they can work on.
Archer is 33 now and after two spells with the Tampa Bay Rays, sandwiched by being a Pittsburgh Pirate, has enough experience to maintain a role in the rotation.
He is 1-2 this season and has an ERA of 3.35, he doesn't go long in games though. He has completed five innings only twice this season.
His last start against the Mariners he went four innings on four days' rest, he gave up four hits, walked two and struck out three.
Despite this, the Twins sit nicely at the top of the American League Central Division with a record of 36-27, 3.5 games ahead of their nearest challengers, the Cleveland Guardians.
Minnesota is 3.00 with the Chicago White Sox just edging them ahead at 2.75, but the White Sox have their own issues at the moment and despite a 9-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday, team manager Tony La Russa is still under pressure.
Baldelli has confidence in Twins
No such worries for Minnesota coach Rocco Baldelli, who won AL Manager of the Year in his first season with the Twins in 2019.
He was disappointed with the Twins campaign last season, but he's been really pleased with how they have hit back so far this season.
Speaking to the official Twins website, Baldelli said: "I was really happy with the way we came out and the way we played against the Yankees last week. Despite the defeat, we've got to play crisper baseball to win games against good sides.
"We go forward in a better spot after playing the best team in baseball. There are times when you make mistakes in games, and you talk about it, not this time, we played well and we can build on this."
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