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September 11, 2017

If the Twins complete their turnaround from last place to October darlings, they’ll have done it the hard way. Trading away their closer (Brandon Kintzler) and one of their top starters (Jaime Garcia) at the deadline wouldn’t seem like a formula for success.

Yet here we are. Even after dropping two straight to the Royals over the weekend, Minnesota leads the race for the second wild-card spot by one game. On July 31, the Twins sat at 50-53, having allowed 72 more runs than they’d scored. Since then, they’ve gone 24–16 with a gigantic +62 run differential.

For that, the Twins can thank a variety of contributors, including Kyle Gibson, purveyor of sudden quality innings and Trevor Hildenberger, who continues to shut batters down out of the bullpen. But the driving force has been an explosion in the team’s offense. Byron Buxton’s crushed nine home runs in the past month. Buxton, Jorge Polanco, and Robbie Grossman are all slugging better than .600 over that span. Brian Dozier’s scored 28 runs and clocked an on-base percentage above .400, while Joe Mauer’s batting a cool .411.

But wait, there’s more. Miguel Sano could be days away from returning to the lineup as he heals from a shin injury, which would give the Twins back their biggest power bat of all. If Sano hits the ground running, one of the hottest offenses in the league could become downright scary. And if that happens, Minnesota could go dancing again.

11. Milwaukee Brewers (75-68, plus-24, LT: 10)

10. St. Louis Cardinals (75-68, plus-74, LT: 11)

9. Colorado Rockies (78-65, plus-49, LT: 9)

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