Playoff bound! Twins beat Angels 8-6 to clinch AL Central Division title

The Minnesota Twins pose on the field after the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field on September 22, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Los Angeles Angels and clinched the American League Central Division ((Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Twins are the American League Central Division champions after beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 8-6 Friday night at Target Field.

The Twins entered the day with a Magic Number of one, needing either a win or losses by the Cleveland Guardians and Detroit Tigers to cement their spot in Major League Baseball’s playoffs. The Twins handled their business, and won their third AL Central title in five seasons under Rocco Baldelli, a division which they led for most of the season. It's the first time since 2010 that the Twins clinched a division title in front of their home fans.

"That’s what we’re here to do. This is what we’re here to do, and I’m going to tell the players that we were dedicated to committing to winning," Baldelli said on the field after the win. "The most important thing here is winning, bring a winning team and a World Series back to Minnesota. That’s what we’re here for, this is just the start."

Alex Kirilloff provided the eventual game-winning hit, with a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth inning. The Twins got four insurance runs in the seventh, with RBI doubles from Kyle Farmer and Jorge Polanco.

Pablo Lopez, arguably the Twins' biggest offseason acquisition, allowed three runs over six innings to get the win. 

The champagne celebration was in full effect in the clubhouse after the victory, which puts the Twins at 82-72 with eight games to play. Winning the division guarantees the Twins a home series in the Wild Card round of the American League playoffs, a best-of-three series at Target Field. The Twins’ playoff struggles are well-documented, as they’re on an 18-game losing streak. The Twins have not won a playoff game since 2004, when they lost to the New York Yankees 3-1 in the division series.

"We’re going to get that first win since 2004, I can promise you that," Farmer said.

The Twins were able to win the division without their two best players on the field. Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis are both on the injured list. Correa, who has played in 135 games this season, re-aggravated the plantar fasciitis in his foot on Monday. He’s confident he’ll be ready for the playoffs.

The Twins placed Lewis on the injured list Friday with a left hamstring strain. He left Tuesday’s game after suffering the injury during an eighth inning at-bat. In 58 games, he’s hitting .309 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI. Four of those 15 home runs are grand slams. Like Correa, Lewis is also confident he’ll be ready for the playoffs.

Now, the Twins wait to see who they will host in the AL Wild Card Playoffs. Right now, that’s a race between the Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.