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Twins repeat as AL Central champs, will face Astros in opening round of playoffs

Reds Twins Baseball
Members of the AL Central champions Minnesota Twins pose for a photo in the rain after their baseball game with the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Minneapolis. Twins clinched the AL Central championship with the Chicago White Sox’s loss. The Reds won 5-3. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

The Twins lost their regular-season finale to the Cincinnati Reds, 5-3, in 10 innings on Sunday at Target Field, but still won the AL Central title because the White Sox lost, 10-8, to the Cubs. The Cubs led 10-1 at after seven innings but the White Sox rallied to score seven runs in the final two innings.
The Twins’ loss places them in third in the American League playoff seedings, meaning they will face No. 6 seed Houston beginning on Tuesday at Target Field. Kenta Maeda will get the Game 1 start for the Twins. The Astros (29-31) finished in second place in the AL West behind Oakland and are the only AL club in the eight-team field to get into the playoffs with a record under .500. Houston is set to start righthander Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA) in the opening game.
The Twins are division champs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2009 and ’10.
“It’s a great day to be able to go out there on the field, put up a banner in front of you, and take a picture. It’s a lot of fun,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who has won division titles in each of his first two seasons. “We also know that we still have a lot of work to do, but right now we’re going to have some fun with this. This is a great day for us.”
The AL matchups (outside of the Twins and Astros) for the wild card round will look like this: No. 1 Tampa Bay will play host to No. 8 Toronto; No. 2 Oakland will play host to the No. 7 White Sox; and No. 4 Cleveland will play host to the No. 5 Yankees.
The Astros finished ahead of the White Sox (35-25) and Toronto (32-28) because they were the second-place team in their division, while Chicago and Toronto grabbed wild card spots in the AL Central and AL East, respectively.
As far as the division series, the higher seed in the AL will be the home team for that round at Petco Park in San Diego and the other ALDS will be at Dodger Stadium. The AL Championship Series will be played in San Diego and the World Series will start on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Rangers new ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
The Twins’ won the division in a pandemic-shortened, 60-game regular season that will be followed by an expanded playoff tournament that will have eight teams from each league. The season was threatened by the coronavirus and also the fact that players and owners could not get on the same page, as far as an agreement on numerous issues.
“Our guys handled everything with extraordinary professionalism, enthusiasm, focus, everything that we talk about every day, in baseball we play every day, so you have to bring it every day,” Baldelli said. “We had a group that did that, brought that out out to the field, brought it into the clubhouse and did everything the right way. I want to be clear: These are great days, but our group doesn’t feel like we’re done in any way. We feel like we’re just getting going and that’s not just me talking about it, that’s what you get when you interact with our players. That’s the feel that they give off and I’m just talking about. That’s them and what they bring to the ballpark every single day.”