Twins down Angels to clinch AL Central title again

The Minnesota Twins clinched the American League Central title with an 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

It's Minnesota's third AL Central title in the past five seasons, having also won the division in 2019 and 2020. Overall, the club has now won nine Central titles and 13 divisional titles (winning the AL West four times before MLB went to three divisions in each league).

Alex Kirilloff homered and drove in three runs, and the Twins held on late to win.

"We've got a lot of work to do," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "But tonight, we have fun. Tomorrow, we work again."

Pablo Lopez (11-8) pitched six innings for Minnesota, allowing three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Jhoan Duran gave up a run in the ninth but got the final out with the bases loaded to secure his 27th save of the season.

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.

"It means a lot," said injured shortstop Carlos Correa, who is expected to be ready for the postseason. "The first one here in Minnesota, it's really special. When you come to a new team, these are the goals that you set out to accomplish and this is just one of them."

Of course, the playoffs haven't been kind to Minnesota. The Twins have lost 18 straight postseason games, mostly to their postseason nemesis, the New York Yankees.

Minnesota hasn't won a postseason game since 2004, taking the first game of the division series 2-0 in New York with Johan Santana on the mound. Under Baldelli, the Twins were swept in two games by the Houston Astros in a 2020 first-round series and swept in three games by the Yankees in the 2019 division series.

The Twins added on to their lead Friday with a four-run seventh, highlighted by RBI doubles from Kyle Farmer and Jorge Polanco.

"The longest few innings of my life, I guess you could say," Farmer said. "But we finished it, and it was great."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.