Twins clinch AL Central with win over Tigers, Cleveland loss

Noah Trister Ap Baseball Writer
Thursday, September 26, 2019
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On this night, the stars were Randy Dobnak, Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario — but really it could have been anyone.

The Minnesota Twins are AL Central champions because of contributions from all over the roster.

Arraez and Rosario homered, and Dobnak allowed one hit in six sparkling innings to lead Minnesota to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night. The Twins later clinched the division title when Cleveland lost to the White Sox in Chicago.

It’s the first division title for Minnesota since 2010 and will be only its second postseason appearance since then. The Twins (98-60) have their highest victory total since the 1970 team also won 98 games.

“It’s wonderful to see people achieve their goals and their dreams and reach these types of points,” said Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota’s first-year manager. “This is a very big mark. It’s something that we shoot for. You can’t play beyond this until you get to this point, and knowing that we have an opportunity to play for a World Series is exactly where we want to be right now.”

Minnesota wrapped up its win over the Tigers well before the Chicago-Cleveland game ended. That game was on television in the Minnesota clubhouse, where the Twins ate, played cards and waited calmly for a possible celebration.

As the White Sox closed out that 8-3 victory — first letting the Indians load the bases in the ninth inning — shouts could be heard in the hallway outside the Twins’ clubhouse.

The previous decade was much more successful for Minnesota, which won the division in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009. That run abruptly came to an end another AL Central title in 2010. Now the decade of the 2010s will end the way it started with the Twins atop the division.

They’ve won with an offense that is tied for the major league lead in home runs with a record 299. That’s been a team effort, with five players hitting over 30 and three more with over 20. The homer by Arraez was only his fourth of the season.

It was an entertaining season, too, with the Twins getting off to a fast start — they led the Indians by 11 1/2 games on June 3 — before giving up the division lead to surging Cleveland about two months later. But Minnesota is 27-13 since dropping three of four to the Indians in the second week of August.

“We knew what we were capable of if everyone stayed healthy and contributed,” right-hander Jake Odorizzi said. “This is what you’ve seen all year from us — consistency — and that’s the mark of a good team, so we’re excited to be in, and now it’s time to get ready for whoever we face.”