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Zulgad: Ready to bet against these Twins? That might be a big mistake

Mar 10, 2017; Jupiter, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor (4) in the dugout during a spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

This seems fitting.

In a season in which resilience long ago became the norm, the Minnesota Twins are going to once again have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and prove that getting dirt kicked in their face by a big, bad opponent (this time the New York Yankees) isn’t going to keep them down.

The Twins were outscored 18-6 in being swept in three games at Yankee Stadium. This included an 11-3 loss on Wednesday afternoon in which the Twins took a 3-0 lead against Yankees ace Luis Severino in the top of the third inning before the Bronx Bombers disposed of the Twins by scoring a combined nine runs in the third and fourth innings in chasing starter Bartolo Colon.

The loss left the Twins with only a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild card spot in the American League. The Angels were scheduled to play host to the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, giving them an opportunity to tie the Twins.

“I believe in that group a lot and it hasn’t changed because of the last three days,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of his team. “Not only the talent, but the character and really good leadership in that clubhouse. So, big challenge going to Detroit, they’ll be loosey-goosy. I’m sure they’d love to derail us a little bit and we’ll see how we respond.”

In this case, Molitor wasn’t providing lip-service.

What has made this Twins team so interesting isn’t that it’s really that good, at least not yet. Rather it’s every time you figure their season is about to collapse, they have made you feel foolish.

There have been numerous instances of this, including when chief baseball officer Derek Falvey decided to trade starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, whom had just been acquired, and closer Brandon Kintzler before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 after the Twins struggled out of the All-Star break.

The Twins had won only five of 15 at that point, but got their act together and went 20-10 in August.

While being swept by the Yankees might be disappointing, it certainly shouldn’t be considered all that surprising.

These Twins haven’t exactly had success against some of the AL’s best. The key is there aren’t that many clubs that can be considered superior in the American League. The list would include Cleveland, Boston, the Yankees and Houston.

Minnesota is 6-10 against Cleveland, 2-5 against Boston, 2-4 against the Yankees and 1-5 against Houston. That included the Astros’ 16-8, 7-2, 17-6 victories in late May at Target Field, a sweep that gave you the feeling the Twins would soon disappear toward the bottom of the AL Central standings. That never happened.

That’s because the Twins’ beat up on teams like the White Sox (12-7) and took the season series from the Royals (11-8).

The Twins have 10 games left on their schedule, including seven total against the 62-90 Tigers. Minnesota will face the Tigers in a four-game series beginning Thursday in Detroit.

It could be considered disturbing that the Twins are only 5-7 against Detroit this season, but the Tigers also have gone into a rebuild in recent weeks and sent away some key pieces. This includes former ace Justin Verlander.

The issue, as Molitor pointed out, is Detroit could attempt to make the Twins’ life miserable just for the fun of it. The Twins’ other remaining series will be next week in Cleveland. The Indians, who rode a 22-game winning streak to the AL Central title, show no signs of slowing down.

The Angels, meanwhile, will wrap up their series with Cleveland on Thursday afternoon before playing three in Houston, four against the White Sox in Chicago and closing against Seattle at home.

That means the pressure will be on the Twins to take care of business against the Tigers.

That type of pressure would get to most teams – especially one with so many young players, like the Twins have – only every time this club looks as if it’s going to fold, it surges.

“My goal right now is to try to figure out how to get these guys back into a positive frame of mind and to try to go out and win a game in Detroit tomorrow,” Molitor said.

Betting against him at this point would be a dangerous thing.


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