The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians start a must-win series on Thursday.
It’s not out of the ordinary to say that a series between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians is a “must-win” heading into August. Under most normal circumstances that’s exactly what it would be. Over the last twenty years, the two most consistent teams have been the Twins and the Indians and the quickest way to the top is through your opponent and the Twins are usually that team.
Yet, to say that games seven eight and nine of a season are must-win? That’s a new one.
Due to the shortened season, that’s exactly where we find ourselves, in a must-win situation only six games in. To be clear, this isn’t to say that the Indians are dead in the water if they lose this series. On the contrary, they’ll still be poised for a playoff spot through the wildcard teams. Yet, to win the AL Central? They need to take every game they can from the Twins if they hope to win the AL Central.
The Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers have as much chance as winning the AL Central as the Cleveland Cavaliers do winning the SuperBowl; and yes, The Cavs.
That’s how little a chance the rest of the Central has at winning the division. The Indians and the Twins are going to beat up on the rest of the division like kaiju’s wrecking a town in a Japanese cityscape. So in order for either the Twins or Indians to secure a lead, they can’t rely on just beating up everyone else, they have to take wins from their chief opposition.
The season is seven days old and we’re already a tenth of the way over. Compound that with what’s happening around the league with the positive tests and postponing of games and you can see the Indians can’t afford to let any opportunity slip through their hands. It’s entirely possible that someone pops positive on the Indians and boom, they go from having 60 games to play this season to something like 55 games.
If that’s the case then the Twins could easily get an advantage that they never relinquish. That’s why this first series is arguably the biggest one of the season. It’ll set the tone for everything that follows.