A five-game losing streak and a two-game deficit for home-field advantage throughout the ALCS with just five games to be played has the Twins wondering where their starting pitching has gone.
Finishing with the best record in the AL doesn't look good now for the suddenly struggling Twins, but they did clinch home-field advantage in the first-round with the Rangers loss on Tuesday night.
So at least they can look forward to beginning their first-round series with the Yankees or Rays at Target Field, but they were oh so close to obtaining the grand prize if not for their late season slide after winning the Central division last week at Target Field.
The culprit for their slide has no doubt been their starting rotation. Maybe the long season has started to take its toll on them collectively; maybe they are just taking a little off to save it for the playoffs. Either way, it appears it cost the team the top spot in the AL.
Having Joe Mauer, Jim Thome and J.J. Hardy on the mend during the trip hasn’t helped their cause either, but even without them the lineup should be potent enough to hang with the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.
But like I said before, these AL Central foes who long ago realized their fate that they would not be playing into late October, have been salivating at the chance to play spoiler against the division-dominating Twins. Now they are celebrating at the Twins expense.
The scary part is that the Twins aren't just sending out September call-ups to pitch these late season games. It's their starting rotation for the playoffs that has been getting absolutely pounded by the Tigers and Royals.
During the five-game skid Twins pitching has given up 46 runs and four times have allowed double-digit runs.
Yes Kevin Slowey, Jeff Manship and Randy Flores (three guys who don't figure into the Twins postseason plans) got ripped on Monday, but Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn all got waxed during the road-trip.
Not a good sign when the Twins are looking ahead to the lineups of the Yankees and Rays.
What's interesting now is that Scott Baker gets one last chance to prove his worth in the closing game of their last road-trip of the season tonight in Kansas City. If he pitches a masterpiece and gets the Twins a win, would the Twins consider swapping out Blackburn for him in the post-season rotation?
Blackburn has been a blessing to the Twins since returning from the minors, but he got walloped on Tuesday night, which has to hurt his chances a bit. It will be interesting to see what happens if Baker comes out and pitches a shutout tonight.
Thome, Hardy and Mauer have all received good news on their injuries and it's likely that they will all make their returns to the lineup this weekend as the Twins host the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field for four games to finish off their regular season schedule.
Liriano, Pavano, Duensing and Baker will all get their chance to redeem themselves after a forgettable road-trip.
Judging from the last five games, I just hope the Twins didn't start their celebration too soon because the main event has yet to come.
It's an amazing feat that they won their sixth division title in nine seasons, but at some point this team needs to start making some noise deep in the playoffs.