The Minnesota Twins are set to play a huge doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians today with their lives on the line in terms of a playoff berth.
The mere fact that Minnesota is still alive in the race has come as a surprise to many, given the Twins’ struggles over the past four seasons and low expectations heading into 2015. However, those preseason doubts are a thing of the past and the Twins are just a game and a half behind the Los Angeles Angles for the American League wild card spot but they now have a game in hand, which gets made up with the double header today. The Houston Astros are just half a game ahead of the Twins, sitting between the two teams, but Minnesota has played two less games then Houston and will control their own fate against the Astros because of it.
Last night’s rainout came exactly six years after Minnesota took part in another late season doubleheader with their season on the line. The Twins and Detroit Tigers had the first game of a crucial four game set rained out, setting the stage for an epic twin bill showdown on September 29, 2009.
Both doubleheaders will carry significant weight on the Twins playoff hopes. Minnesota entered play two games behind the AL Central leading Tigers with seven games to play, including the doubleheader. Now they find themselves back just a game and a half with just six games remaining, including tonight’s contests.
2009 was a September to remember in the Twin Cities and a playoff race that won’t be easily forgotten. Minnesota and Detroit split the double header, partaking in a pair of epic one run games. A Delmon Young sacrifice fly in the top of the tenth held up as the game winner for the Twins in game one while a RBI doubles by Jason Kubel and Nick Punto in the eighth and ninth inning respectively weren’t enough for Minnesota as they fell just short in game two.
Despite gaining no ground in the playoff race that day, the Twins wound up winning four of their next five before an Alexi Casilla drove in Carlos Gomez in the 12th inning of a one game tiebreaker game to decide the AL Central champion; a game Sports Illustrated would later call the “Best Regular Season Game of the Decade” in their All-Decade awards at the end of the year.
Minnesota would love to repeat their 2009 magic and it all starts tonight.