MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Baseball people will tell you the pennant races really don’t begin until September.

In most cases that’s true, but in the case of the Twins, it began the day they started climbing out of a 16 1/2 game hole on June 1. They’ve since cut the deficit in the American League Central Division to 6 ½ games by winning 24 out of 35 games, but still have three teams ahead of them in the division.

It all starts Thursday night with the first game of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals. The Twins then host the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers each for four games.

Trevor Plouffe will start at DH Thursday night, while Delmon Young returns from an ankle injury and will play in left field, with Ben Revere in center and Michael Cuddyer in right. Luke Hughes will play first, but Twins fans should look for Plouffe to play some first base as well as Joe Mauer when the situation allows.

“If I just relax a little bit, I took my preparation pretty seriously. I definitely wanted to come back up, and it was one of those things where I knew that was the only thing in my control was to go out there and play well,” Plouffe said. “I worked hard and the numbers just kind of came after that.”

Mauer said with the deficit that they’ve trimmed since June 1, they’re right back in the race for the division title.

“We’re really not that far out. We’re six games and we’ve got a lot of games to play but we’ve just got to keep going and try to win series and go from there,” Mauer said. “To say we have to win a certain amount of games I think is pretty ridiculous, but if we go out there and win series I think we’ll be alright.”

And we don’t know yet if any Twins will be traded before the July 31 deadline. It looks to be an interesting race to the finish.


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