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Apr 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) celebrates with right fielder Max Kepler (26) after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins entered the 2021 season with lofty expectations.

Offseason additions of shortstop Andrelton Simmons and reliever Alex Colome to the back-to-back American League Central champions had fans hoping for the team to break its historical streak of 18 postseason losses -- the longest in North American professional sports history -- and make a deep run in October.

Thirty games into the season, however, the Twins are 11-19 and in fourth place in the division. Perhaps as perplexing as the team’s playoff slump, Minnesota has inexplicably gone 0-11 in games not decided in nine innings (seven-inning doubleheaders and extra-inning contests).

But not all hope is lost.

Eight teams in MLB history have started a season by winning 11 or fewer of its opening 30 contests and still made the playoffs, most recently the Houston Astros and New York Yankees in 2005. The 1914 Boston Braves won just nine of their first 30 games but finished the season on an 85-38 tear and won the World Series.

TEAMS TO WIN 11 OR FEWER OF FIRST 30 GAMES AND REACH PLAYOFFS
SEASON TEAM FIRST 30 FINAL RECORD RESULT
1981 Kansas City Royals 9-21 50-53 Lost ALDS
1914 Boston Braves 9-21 94-59 Won World Series
1989 Toronto Blue Jays 10-20 89-73 Lost ALCS
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates 10-20 88-74 Lost NLCS
2005 Houston Astros 11-19 89-73 Lost World Series
2005 New York Yankees 11-19 95-67 Lost ALDS
2001 Oakland Athletics 11-19 102-60 Lost ALDS
1987 Detroit Tigers 11-19 98-64 Lost ALDS

If they’re going to become the ninth team in MLB history to make the playoffs after an 11-19 record (or worse) start, the Twins need to turn things around quickly. Minnesota needs a get-right series.

Enter the Detroit Tigers.

After a surprising 6-6 start, the Tigers have fallen back to Earth and then some, losing 12 of their last 14 contests and seven of their last eight.

Akil Baddoo, who played in the Twins organization for five years before being selected by Detroit in the 2020 Rule 5 draft, was one of the best stories in baseball after tearing up the league over the first two weeks of the season. But, just like his team, he’s slumping, batting .034 (1 for 29) over the last 10 games.

Since Comerica Park replaced Tiger Stadium in 2000, the Twins have fared well as visitors, going 96-94 (.505). If Minnesota takes at least two of three from the Tigers this weekend, Comerica Park will surpass the original Comiskey Park as the friendliest road stadium in Twins history, as Minnesota went 117-114 (.506) there before the Chicago White Sox moved into the new Comiskey Park (now named Guaranteed Rate Field) in 1991.

Slugger Nelson Cruz has also mashed at Comerica Park, logging a career slash line of .335/.384/.631 with 20 home runs and 51 RBI in 59 contests.

Over the last two seasons, Cruz has been lethal against left-handed pitchers. He’s registered 33 hits, eight homers and a 1.266 OPS -- the best mark in baseball -- in that span. The good news? Detroit is expected to trot out a pair of southpaws this weekend -- Tarik Skubal in Friday’s series opener and Matthew Boyd on Sunday.

Cruz and the Twins will begin their series at 6 p.m. Friday night against the Tigers. Tune in to Bally Sports North PLUS at 5:30 p.m. for “Twins Live.”

Statistics courtesy Sportradar