The Twins were the first team in baseball to clinch their spot in the MLB playoffs, but they were the last team in the American League to get comfortable. The Rangers pulled away in June. The Yankees and Rays pulled away in July. It took the Twins until August, and believe it or not, this team was actually as many as 4.5 games out of first place on July 15th.
First, it was the Tigers who made a run and occupied first place in early July before thudding out of the race. Then, it was the White Sox who won nine in a row to leapfrog the competition. Chicago had sole possession of first until August 8th, and they were in a tie with the Twins on August 11th when the two teams headed off in completely opposite directions. Chicago lost ten of its next 16 while Minnesota caught fire, and the division gap was five games on August 18th and ten games a month later. The Twins kept up with their rivals, and blew by them when opportunities were presented.
So while the Twins had to sweat for a little while, they've also been able to relax over the past few weeks, just like everybody else. They're essentially at full strength, except for one guy - Justin Morneau, who hasn't played since July 7th due to a concussion. Morneau will not play in the postseason, which seems problematic, although the Twins did manage to go 49-29 without him. It helps when you have Jim Thome hanging around. The rotation is fronted by Francisco Liriano, and the bullpen has been bolstered by the in-season acquisitions of Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes. The principal worry will be how a pitching staff with only one true power arm will fare against a lineup like New York's.
Francisco Liriano (SP; 3.62 ERA, 3.5 K/BB)
Carl Pavano (SP; 3.75 ERA, 3.2 K/BB)
Matt Capps (RP; 2.47 ERA, 3.5 K/BB)