Twins focused on capturing AL Central
Minnesota not chasing Wild Card with division within reach
TORONTO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was sitting in the visiting manager's office at Rogers Centre on Wednesday, intently watching the conclusion of the afternoon affair between the Red Sox and Orioles.
With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, Boston secured a 5-4 walk-off victory when a Baltimore reliever committed a throwing error that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The win allowed the Red Sox to keep pace as the leaders of the American League Wild Card.
The Twins, on the other hand, entered Wednesday's game vs. the Blue Jays a half-game behind the White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central. If Minnesota falls behind in that race, though, it could be left to battle Boston for a Wild Card berth.
With this in mind, Gardenhire made it clear which race he expects his team to compete in.
"We've set out to win our division the whole time," said Gardenhire. "We haven't worried about Wild Card stuff ever, and I'm not going to start now. We just worry about trying to win our division. That's the way we started the season and that's what we're after.
"Getting to the playoffs -- however you get in -- that's great, but our goal is to win our division."
Despite such goals, the Twins have not been playing well of late, having dropped seven of their past 10 games. Luckily for Minnesota, though, Chicago has not been able to pull away in the standings.
With the AL Central so hotly contested, it looks increasingly likely that the remaining three games between the Twins and White Sox, Sept. 23-25 at the Metrodome, will be of great importance in deciding which team secures a playoff spot.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is very much aware of this.
"If we go there to decide the division, it's going to be tough," Guillen said in Cleveland on Tuesday. "[The Twins] always play good against us, against everybody in the [Metrodome]. But we have a lot of games before that, and so do they. Hopefully, we get to that point, because if we get to that point, we'll have to deal with it. If we get there, we're still contenders, we're still fighting. That's the ultimate goal."
Upon hearing Guillen's remarks, Gardenhire preferred not to look ahead to that particular series at the Metrodome. Instead, the manager wants his team to focus on its upcoming games, including Wednesday night's contest against the Blue Jays.
"We have got to win as many as we can," said Gardenhire. "That'll be a fun series if it's all right there, no matter who's ahead, if it's close. But you have got to win ballgames and then go from there. We can't put everything towards facing Chicago at home for three games.
"We've got too many other games between then and after then."
David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.