Last Wednesday’s Twins game - which Minnesota blew in the late innings against Cleveland, turning what would have been a seven-game AL Central lead into a five-game lead - affected my whole view on the their Labor Day weekend.

What should have been a really good series, taking two out of three in Texas, turned into a “yeah but the Guardians won twice too.” What should have been positive signs, like the Twins averaging more than six runs a game, turned into “yeah but they couldn’t score against Cleveland last week.”

So Monday’s game - a 20-6 Twins win, in which they hit six home runs, including another Royce Lewis grand slam - came at the absolute perfect time.

Since returining from the IL on August 15, in 18 games, Lewis has a .997 OPS, with seven homers - including three grand slams - and 24 runs batted in. He may be the most popular player on the team now, if not the American League.

Pablo López worked his way through a ton of baserunners - one run, on eight hits and three walks, in six innings - and both he and the offense gave the bullpen a chance to rest. Brent Headrick, the sacrificial lamb in the pen, gave up two runs but completed an inning, and a 20-3 lead allowed Willi Castro to pitch the ninth inning and give up three runs by throwing 40-mph moon balls.

The lead allowed Minnesota to empty the bench, as 13 players got at least two plate appearances - all except Christian Vázquez, who did play his 18th career inning at second base. (I was sure this would be his first time at second base ever, but Boston played him there in two different seasons, even starting him there once. And he also played second one time in rookie ball.)

Our condolences to Max Kepler, who was the only Twin not to get a hit, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

I’m not totally sure what to say about the Loons’ game in San Jose on Saturday night. Let me try to make a bulleted list:

  1. It ended in a 1-1 draw, with Teemu Pukki scoring five minutes in and San Jose replying ten minutes later with a weird deflected goal from Cade Cowell.
  2. The Loons should have won because Hassani Dotson should have scored in the first half, and Pukki did score in the second half, only to see his goal ruled out on VAR because of a handball on Emanuel Reynoso, though the replay was pretty clear that it hit Reynoso in the shoulder and not the arm, and how that translates into a “clear and obvious error” when replay seemed to confirm the call on the field, is anyone’s guess.
  3. VAR is still terrible, always remember that.
  4. But actually San Jose probably should have won because Dayne St. Clair made two ridiculous saves from Earthquakes headers in the second half.
  5. So maybe a draw was fair, except it should have been 2-2 or 3-3.

Minnesota has gone six games undefeated in MLS play, and hasn’t lost in the league since July 8. They’re finally making up their game in hand on much of the West this weekend, when they play New England, so we’ll finally be able to look at the standings and not have to mentally sort everything by points per game.

They could be as high as fifth or as low as eighth in the standings after that game, depending on how things go.

The Lynx are officially in the WNBA playoffs, and fittingly, they earned Cheryl Reeve’s 300th WNBA victory on the same evening. After starting the season 0-6, Minnesota is 19-13 and currently sitting in the fifth spot in the standings, a game and a half up on sixth place with two games to play.

Minnesota is only the second WNBA team to make the playoffs after starting the year 0-6.

The most likely scenario is that the Lynx would travel to Dallas for the playoffs, which is the best possible option; traveling to Vegas, New York, or Connecticut would be daunting. The first round is best-of-three, with the top seed hosting the first two games, so the home-court advantage isn’t even all that large.

Last we mentioned the Saints, they’d pulled into a tie for the second-half International League lead. Such is the International League that when St. Paul had the weekend that they had - three losses in a row against Columbus - they’ve now dropped all the way to seventh in the standings.

The problem the Saints are running into is that, like most of the league, they can’t really pitch right now. It’d be a fairly short list of pitchers who didn’t get blown up over the weekend; the best was probably Randy Dobnak (two runs on six hits in six innings on Saturday).

Alex Kirilloff did hit a couple of homers over the weekend, so there’s that. And on Sunday, Brooks Lee had four hits and tied the game with a homer in the ninth; unfortunately, Columbus scored eight runs in the top of the 10th.

St. Paul has three six-game series to go this year - at Louisville, at Iowa, and home against Toledo - and it feels like unless they do something truly outstanding, like winning 15 or 16 of the remaining 18, their playoff dreams will be dashed.

Gopher volleyball plays the heavyweights, and when you play the heavyweights - and you have a new coach and are still trying to find your team - sometimes things go wrong.

You can add Sunday’s game against Florida to that list, as the Gophers got swept by the Gators, and mostly got their butts kicked. Minnesota trailed by seven or more points in all three sets; they did get back within a handful in each one, though never tied or leading, and lost 22-18-22.

After starting the year with good wins against TCU and Baylor, Minnesota managed to win just one set against top-10 teams Texas and Florida - and it doesn’t get easier next weekend, with games against top-10 teams Oregon and Stanford in Palo Alto.

I suppose the best way to get ready for the Big Ten volleyball schedule is to play a bunch of really good teams.


TWINS at Cleveland, 5:10pm
SAINTS at Louisville, 5:35pm


LYNX at Chicago, Friday
LOONS vs New England, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL vs Eastern Michigan, Saturday
VIKINGS vs Tampa Bay, Sunday