MINNEAPOLIS (Associated Press) — After celebrating on the field and before any bottles were popped in the clubhouse, Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli had a message for his team: congratulations, enjoy it — but there’s more to be done.
The Twins clinched the AL Central title Friday night with an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Alex Kirilloff homered and drove in three runs, and Minnesota held on late to win the division crown for the third time in five seasons under Baldelli.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Baldelli said. “But tonight, we have fun. Tomorrow, we work again.”
Pablo López (11-8) pitched six innings for the Twins, allowing three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts. Jhoan Duran gave up a run in the ninth but retired Brandon Drury on a grounder with the bases loaded to secure his 27th save.
“We came into today controlling our own destiny,” López said. “We knew we didn’t need to watch the scoreboard for anyone to lose. We knew that we needed to win the ballgame. That’s exactly what we did. Even when I wasn’t at my best, the offense picked me right up.”
After the Twins squandered an early 3-0 lead, Kirilloff’s 10th homer snapped a 3-all tie in the sixth and Minnesota won for the sixth time in eight games. Kirilloff became the 12th Twins player with double-digit home runs this season, setting a club record.
With lines from a recent college football game played at Target Field still visible, the crowd was eager to celebrate another extended fall for the Twins. It’s their 15th trip to the postseason since the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Twins.