Twins’ postseason push takes a comfortable twist

Photograph courtesy @morsecode via Twitter.

Comfort in Twins’ dugout (⬆️ UP)

Who said September baseball had to be stressful? Why not relax and unwind with some dugout spa treatment instead? Josh Donaldson gifted his teammates with personalized Twins robes on Tuesday, each one containing a player’s name and number on the back. It was an instant hit. When Byron Buxton, Mitch Garver and Max Kepler mashed homers Tuesday night, they were greeted in the dugout with the robe of the Professional Napper himself, Nelson Cruz. We hope the robes stick around for the playoffs.

 

Max Kepler, Twins outfielder (⬆️ UP)

Kepler was a monster Tuesday night. Batting sixth in the lineup against left-hander Tarik Skubal, Kepler went 3-for-5 with a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and the walk-off bloop single in the 10th. Kepler struggled a bit after coming off the 10-day injured list Sept. 13, going 2-for-19 with four strikeouts in his first five games back. But in his last three contests, Kepler is 7-for-14 with two doubles, two homers and five RBI.

 

Gary Kubiak, Vikings offensive coordinator (⬇️ DOWN)

The Vikings offense has not been fun to watch. Period. Kubiak is known to be a master of the running game, as his offenses in Denver and Houston consistently ranked among the NFL’s top-five ground attacks. Giving him Dalvin Cook to work with seemed like a perfect match. However, the Vikings rank 20th in rushing yards and 30th in total yards. It hasn’t been pretty.

 

Kirk Cousins, Vikings quarterback (⬇️ DOWN)

Cousins’ 43-yard connection with Adam Thielen to set up a game-winning Kyle Rudolph score in overtime of the Vikings’ wild-card win over New Orleans last season seems like it was decades ago. Through two 2020 games, Cousins has thrown for 372 yards, two touchdowns and a league-high four interceptions on 30-of-51 passing, adding up to a 61.9 passer rating. After three quarters on Sunday, Cousins’ passer rating for the game was 0.0. Plus, he’s taken a safety in back-to-back games to open the season. Yikes.

 

Rashod Bateman, Gophers receiver (⬆️ UP)

How about some positive football news? Head coach P.J. Fleck confirmed that Bateman, the 2019 Big Ten Receiver of the Year, wants to come back and play the 2020 season with the Gophers. Bateman originally announced Aug. 4 he was forgoing eligibility due to the unknowns of how a Big Ten football season would work in a COVID-19 world. Now that the conference has a plan in place, Bateman is back in. Even happier with Bateman’s decision is quarterback Tanner Morgan, who helped the star receiver rack up 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

 

Taylor Rogers, Twins reliever (⬇️ DOWN)

Things haven’t been easy for Rogers this season. The left-hander allowed another run Tuesday night, albeit unearned because it was the automatic baserunner in the 10th inning. He’s stranded just 57.3% of runners on base this season, down from his career average of 77.4%. Sure, part of his misfortunes have been bad luck. Opponents have logged a .411 BABIP against Rogers, compared to the lefty’s .310 career average. But he’s registered just two 1-2-3 innings in his last 17 outings, something the Twins hope will be corrected by the playoffs.