By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Twins team in the playoff hunt means a busy Target Field as October approaches.

It’s been five years since the team has been anywhere close to the postseason, and every game counts if they’re going to make it this year.

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“We’ve got to come support [the team] at a crucial time,” said Twins fan Katie Carlson.

There’s something to be said for playing meaningful baseball in September.

“We probably come a little more when they’re winning,” said Twins fan Kyle Emery. “No doubt about it. It’s a lot more fun, better atmosphere.”

And the team has taken notice. Going into Thursday night’s game against the Angels, the Twins were just a game and half out of the final Wild Card spot. That’s something they haven’t been able to say in a few years, after four straight seasons of 90-plus losses.

“The excitement at the ballpark is back,” Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said.

After Target Field attendance dropped by nearly a million from 2011 to 2014, the Twins have already matched last year’s attendance, and they still have 10 home games left.

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“You’ll see steady, increasing crowds here from tonight through the weekend for sure,” Smith said.

There hasn’t been a huge spike, because September also means back to school, so fewer families take in games on weekday nights. But as long as the team stays in the playoff hunt, ticket sales will stay steady.

TicketKing said this is the most Twins tickets they’ve sold in years. They are selling about 80 Twins tickets a day. Last year at this time they were selling about 15 a day. And many of those were selling for 50 percent to 75 percent below face value.

“We’ve been to six games so far this year,” Twins fan Joe Scott said.

Scott and his family of five drove five hours to be at Thursday night’s game — something they probably wouldn’t have done if playoff baseball wasn’t within reach.

“I think they have a good chance of getting in the playoffs,” Scott said. “I think the push is a good thing for the team.”

Post-season tickets go on sale Sept. 30 for the Twins.

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Whether they make the playoffs or not, fans say the team is setting up nicely for next year, with young players like Buxton, Sano and Rosario gaining experience down the stretch.

John Lauritsen