MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –Twins manager Paul Molitor turned down an offer from Royals manager Ned Yost to coach in this week’s All Star Game, telling him that, actually, he’d rather have the rest.

After all, it’s been quite a first half of the season.

That said, Molitor is wary of getting too excited about it.

“We always caution ourselves,” Molitor said. “The work has just begun in terms of some things that we’d like to accomplish.”

But here at the halfway mark, those things are looking increasingly attainable. Their 49 wins are the second-most in the American League. It’s their most wins at the break since 2008. And their 49-40 record is identical to their record at the All Star break in 1987. Anybody remember how that year ended?

“I said it in spring training, I said it before the season, I said it when we were struggling the first six games,” outfielder Torii Hunter said. “I told people that we were going to be competitive, and we have a good chance of winning this division…. People thought I was crazy, but I’m not.

“A lot of people thought we weren’t going to be at this point at the half, so we definitely silenced a lot of the critics.”

Critics who, even when the Twins started out well, said regression was inevitable.

“That seems to be the word out there, doesn’t it?” pitcher Kyle Gibson said.

But now 89 games into the season, is it time to start believing this is for real?

“I mean, you tell me,” Gibson said. “From Day 1, we’ve been believing in ourselves. And we’ve kind of taken that word regression and thrown it out the window. People can look at us and say what they want…. but we believe in ourselves.

“I actually looked up a definition of regression. Just to see what it actually meant. And if you look at one of the definitions, I believe it says something (like), to rid yourself of a disease or rid yourself of something. And I kind of like that definition a whole lot better.”