Here it is. The zero hour. Under manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twin have become a team renowned for their ability to produce rabbits from hats, a team that has gotten by on last minute magic, even if that magic proves fleeting in the post season.
And in the seven game series with the first place Detroit Tigers, opening tonight, poised at a highly reasonable 4 game handicap behind the first place Detroit Tigers, their playoff hopes hang in the balance.
For some fans, a deficit like this so late in the season is a cause of despair and apathy. After all, the picture is bleaker than the standings might indicate--with Justin Morneau out for the year with a stress fracture in his back, and Joe Crede similarly laid up, the outstanding power that the Twins have exhibited this year is in grave jeopardy. And their pitching woes are deeper and darker than the Marianas Trench- after injuries and failure, their starting rotation headed into the final weeks of the season is full of AAA relievers and young, untested starters.
But there is another kind of Twins fan, for whom this deficit is the primary ingredient for great drama, if not sweet triumph. The Twins are a come-from-behind franchise in almost every respect-- with a meager budget, an affection for no-namers, and a team chemistry that forbids a late season fold, expect the Twins to fight mightily for that playoff spot, and rest assured--the Detroit Tigers aren't breezing through this seven game series, opening tonight at the Metrodome, without breaking a sweat.
But will fight be enough? A decimated line-up and a crapshoot of a rotation might simply prove to be too much, no matter how much can-do spirit the team might have. Have they done more with less? Who can say. But in any case, tonight's game will be a good indicator of how you'll be spending your time this October.