Momentum or downtime? It might not matter
Early clinchers fare similarly to teams that secure late berths
This is the time of the season when Twins Country is usually on pins and needles, but now Minnesota fans are on the panic button. Instead of psyching themselves up for another cliffhanger, or maybe even a 163rd game, they have something else to worry about.For a change, the Twins led the parade into the postseason instead of bringing up the rear. But since clinching the American League Central title on Sept. 21, they have gone 2-5, ending a five-game losing streak with Thursday night's win in Kansas City. So their fans are asking, "Is this any way to gear up for the playoffs?" The obvious reaction would be, "Might as well try this approach since the other wasn't working." The Twins crashed their last two postseason parties on the last day, in 2006 and '09, and, armed with all that momentum, both times went three-and-out in the Division Series. But the most appropriate answer would be, "It's as good a way as any." There is no formula for the best approach to a World Series title takeoff. Well, other than having three hot starting pitchers ready to take the ball. They can give you a semblance of security. Anything else is just hot air through the Sabermetrics tunnel. Advantages are perennially debated, and advocates fall into two camps. Clinch early, and you can get all your ducks in a row: rest gassed regulars, heal aches and pains, set up the rotation. Clinch late, and you've got the jets of momentum. "Clinch too early, and you don't know what to do," said Joe Torre, whose 14-year postseason streak has ended with the current Los Angeles Dodgers. "Some clubs do want to clinch later. Look at Colorado the year (2007) they went into the World Series. If you sit around, you flatten out. With the Yankees, the guys were exhausted and getting a few days' rest helped."
Ease or Wheeze?
|2007||Red Sox||Sept. 28||5||7-7|
|2005||White Sox||Sept. 30||4||9-5|
|2004||Red Sox||Sept. 28||7||9-5|