Let's get the obvious and painful truths out of the way.
The Twins have been five-and-a-half games back and hovering at .500 for what seems like all season. They haven't gotten into striking distance of division-leading Detroit and probably don't deserve to be playing in October.
But one fact that many Twins analysts, fans and especially the Tigers need to fear is that they're still in it.
Detroit of all teams knows full well how it feels to lose out on the division on the final day of the season; suffering a season ending sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in 2006; which in turn cost them the AL Central Division title.
That same year the Tigers would ride their wild card entry to a World Series loss.
The problem is the Tigers have won one of their last six and are faltering at the wrong time.
The other problem is, so are the Twins.
Chicago is continuing its dance to find sanity and would be lucky to land in second, much less take the division. The Twins however, have a powerful offense that can keep them in games unlike recent years. The problem is their pitching has been all over the map.
As of late, however, rookies like Brian Deunsing are proving their worth and that they belong in the rotation. Carl Pavano is fighting for a job and a possible playoff fight. Baker, the ace of the team, has put together 12 straight quality starts.
It would seem the inconsistencies are adding up, but let's take a look at what Minnesota has going for them with 19 games remaining in the regular season.
Here are some of the pro's and con's:
Pro — The Twins' batting in 2009 has been spectacular, led by Joe Mauer's MVP-type year, Morneau's power, Kubel's career year, and Michael Cuddyer's resurgence.
Con — The batting has cooled off the last couple weeks.
Pro — Twins' pitching is finding itself again in the beginning of September (Pavano, Baker, Duensing...).
Con — Blackburn hasn't been able to keep the ball in the park.
Pro — Detroit is faltering.
Con — So is Minnesota.
Pro — Final days of the Dome should create a buzz in the team and fan base.
Con — Means a bigger fall if the Twins can't make some sort of run.
Pro and Con — The Twins are still five-and-a-half games back.
The key will be how well Detroit plays after their last week of baseball, and whether the Twins can bring it together in one last effort for the postseason.
The Twins may not be playoff caliber, but they may find themselves there, and truly, that's all that really matters; because once you get in, anything can happen.