By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “The Aaron Judge Show” comes to town Monday night as the Yankees and Twins get set to square off at Target Field. The rookie has captivated the baseball world, leading the MVP race and hitting 500-foot home runs.

But there’s a lot more at stake for the Twins than just stopping Judge. The Twins start the night just a game above 500 but just a game and a half out of first place.

What kind of team do they want to be — a middling insignificance, or a contender? These next two weeks will go a long way in deciding that.

“We don’t like to get ahead of ourselves,” the Twins’ Brian Dozier said, “but we know what’s in front of us.”

With first the Astros and now the Yankees, Tigers and Dodgers up next, the second half of the season for the Twins starts out with a regular murderer’s row — three contenders, two division leaders, and a division rival. It’s a stretch that will show just what this Twins team is made of.

“We do have a little test, though, coming up these next couple of weeks,” Dozier said. “That’s the big leagues.”

“Guess it’ll give us a good baseline to see where we’re at,” Twins pitcher Taylor Rogers said. “And like you say, it’s the major leagues, so any time is big for you, but especially after the second half — win some ballgames against these type of opponents. I think that’ll give us a lot of confidence going into the dog days.”

The Twins will need to fare well over this stretch just to stay in it, not to mention the message it’ll send to the front office with the trading deadline at the end of the month. Should they be buyers or sellers? We’re about to find out, and the players are in control of that.

“Regardless of what happened the last day, last week, last month — same mindset, same positive vibe,” Twins outfielder Max Kepler said.

At age 44, Bartolo Colon will make his Twins debut Tuesday night against the Yankees. Manager Paul Molitor batted against Colon back in 1997.


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