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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 7: Sylvia Fowles #34 and Napheesa Collier #24 of the Minnesota Lynx celebrate after the game against the Atlanta Dream on August 7, 2022 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Napheesa Collier, Lynx forward (⬆️ UP)

Collier is giving playoff push new meaning. Just 10 1/2 weeks after giving birth, Collier returned to the court for Minnesota – and played double the minutes that were expected (she finished with six points in 21 minutes as the Lynx beat Atlanta) – in large reason to play with Sylvia Fowles, who is retiring. Our quick unofficial research shows Candace Parker had a baby this past December with five months to get back in shape. In 2020, the Lynx’s Odyssey Sims had a baby in in April and four months later was playing for Minnesota. If you’re not impressed with Collier getting back so quickly, well, something is wrong with you. To top it all off, Collier brought daughter Mila to her postgame press conference. Boss move. Mom move. We love it. Anyway, with the Lynx fighting for a playoff spot if Collier can even come close to what she’s done for Minnesota over her first three seasons, these final few games are going to be verrrrry interesting.

Vikings rookies (⬇️ DOWN)

In advance of Sunday’s preseason opener, Minnesota put out its first unofficial depth chart. There weren’t many surprises although no rookie was listed with the first team. This includes first-round pick safety Lewis Cine (slotted behind Camryn Bynum) and second-round corner Andrew Booth Jr. (behind Cameron Dantzler). It’s still early August. We expect the coaches are making the rookies earn their spot and not give them a big head early in camp. Minnesota’s other second rounder, right guard Ed Ingram, is also listed as second team, behind Jesse Davis but ahead of Wyatt Davis, a third-round pick in 2021. Wyatt Davis’ Vikings career is not off to a, shall we say, good start. He appeared in no offensive snaps last season and now is slotted behind a rookie.

Nick Gordon, Twins outfielder (⬆️ UP)

Gordon remains one of the surprises of this year’s Minnesota team. A former top prospect nearly written off before making the majors at age 25 last season, Gordon is slashing .279/.327/.429 (118 OPS+). This past week he was 7-for-22 with six runs, two doubles, a homer, three walks and a steal (.318/.400/.546) while playing left field, center field and shortstop. It took a while, but Gordon has turned himself into a valuable commodity.

Twins starting pitching (⬇️ DOWN)

It was a tough week for Minnesota’s rotation. Joe Ryan had a good start against Detroit then got bombed by Los Angeles Dodgers. Sonny Gray tossed five shutout innings against Toronto – but had to leave early because his pitch count was up after walking five (and then the bullpen imploded). Dylan Bundy couldn’t get past the fourth inning and Tyler Mahle gave up four runs in six innings. Chris Archer pitched decently but was limited to five innings, matching his season high. Captain Obvious here but the Twins need more out of their starters – and getting into the sixth and (heavens!) the seventh would be a boon.

Luis Arraez, Twins infielder (⬆️ UP)

You can’t keep Arraez down for long. After going 0-for-7 over two games July 26-27, Arraez went on a five-game hit streak. Then he had two straight starts where he didn’t reach base – by the way, that matches his longest streak of not getting on base this season – and followed that up with back-to-back three-hit games, collecting three doubles in the process. Arraez is hitting .329, 19 points ahead of Boston’s Rafael Devers, putting him on pace to be Minnesota’s first batting champion since Joe Mauer in 2009. His .318 career average is tied with Kirby Puckett and Lyman Bostock for second in Twins history (rounded up; Puckett is .31805, Arraez entering Wednesday .31762 and Bostock .31754).

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