It is fitting that the Twins-White Sox season series should come down to this.
The Twins need a win to propel them to the top of the division with just three games left to play. Should they win tonight, Minnesota will also win the season series against the ChiSox, and who better to put on the hill than one of the figureheads of the Twins' resurgence: Kevin Slowey.
I wrote a piece earlier in the season, detailing Slowey's revenge against Chicago on July 28, when his six-hit shutout brought Minnesota to within one game of the Central leading Sox, but this stage will determine how Slowey is seen at the end of the year.
Will he be the slayer of the Sox, or will his stellar July simply fade behind disappointing outings in September and June?
The Twins aren't the only team to field their young talent on this critical night. The White Sox will send 16-game winner Gavin Floyd to the mound to face Slowey. Floyd's emergence as a solid front-of-the-rotation starter is a big reason why the Sox are where they are. The offense was never going to be the issue for this team, and thanks in large part to Floyd, the starting pitching has been solid as well.
While Minnesota might rather have Francisco Liriano on the mound, both teams have to be content with the man taking the ball tonight. Floyd and Slowey have been key components to their own team's improbable run this season and will be key competitors for years to come.
Both pitchers face a daunting task, as they are called to essentially keep their respective teams' playoff hopes alive. Both pitchers struggled in their last outings, but one team must emerge the victor. It is somewhat apropos that in this clash of AL Central titans, it is the young pitchers who will be called on to settle the final score.
On a side note, this article was my 100th for Bleacher Report. I've had a blast covering the Twins this season, and I hope to have a significant number of games left to analyze. I'll be shifting my focus largely to Arsenal and the NBA during the winter months, as well as monitoring the Vikings downward trend as they are crushed by the weight of unmet expectations.
Thanks for all the reads, edits, comments and votes!