Nothing’s over until it’s over, but it does kind of feel like the AL Central race* is pretty much over now.

*Someone, sorry that I don’t remember who, referred to it as “more of a fun run,” and that’s perfect.

The Twins beat the Guardians 8-3 on Tuesday, thanks to a fairly epic Cleveland bullpen meltdown, and Minnesota’s lead is now seven games. The teams both have 23 games to go; the Guardians would have to win 16 of the 23 just to reach .500 for the season, which seems pretty unlikely, given how they’ve played most of the year. And so the Twins are in “trip and fall across the finish line” territory.

Could everything go wrong? Sure. But Minnesota could be forgiven about thinking less about the Guardians and more about their playoff plans at this point.

Here’s a stat for you: since the All-Star Break, the Minnesota Twins - punchless, hopeless, terrible at the plate - have the fourth-highest team OPS in all of baseball. They’ve hit 84 home runs since the break, behind only the historically good Atlanta lineup, and even have the second-most walks in baseball in that span.

They lead the league in strikeouts too, after the break - for the year, they’re 50 ahead of second place - but at least they’re getting on base and hitting the ball to match all the whiffs now, too.

That said, the difference in Tuesday’s game was not their ability to swing the bat, but their ability to stand still. With the game tied in the 8th, the Guardians brought in Trevor Stephan, who has 63 appearances already this year and seems to be wearing down.

Christian Vázquez led off with a single, Willi Castro hit a double, and Jorge Polanco drove home a run with a sac fly. And then with two out, Stephan walked Royce Lewis… then Max Kepler… then wild-pitched Castro home… then on the very next pitch plunked Carlos Correa, for good measure.

This made it 5-3 with the bases loaded, and then Donovan Solano singled to center, a single that Myles Straw helpfully failed to field or even block, letting the ball roll all the way to the center-field wall. This made it 8-3, and even the Twins bullpen wasn’t nervous about an 8-3 lead.

In 2022, the Twins lost 45 games (approximate total) to the Guardians, all of which involved blown leads and impossible Cleveland comebacks and that sort of thing. It’s nice that the first two games of this series have gone the other direction, since so many Twins fans - including me - expected the worst.

Royce Lewis may have three grand slams this year, but the St. Paul Saints are minor-and-major-league baseball’s leaders, with 12 as a team this season. Tuesday, it was super-prospect Brooks Lee hitting his first grand slam, to go with a two-run homer by Yunior Severino, as the Saints beat up on Louisville 11-3. Alex Kirilloff also went 3-for-5, which makes you think he’ll be joining up with the Twins… momentarily.

On the pitching side, St. Paul seems to be cobbling together a bullpen game about three nights out of every five now. It doesn’t help that the Twins are making Louie Varland be a long reliever for the rest of the year, and have sent Bailey Ober on what seems to be a rest-and-relaxation tour with St. Paul.

I get it, but it ain’t great for the Saints’ playoff push.


TWINS at Cleveland, 12:10pm
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