By the time the first pitch of Game 4 is thrown on Wednesday, celebratory essentials will have been delivered to Target Field. Beer. Sparkling water. Goggles. Rolls of plastic to cover up clubhouse stalls and keep important items dry.
This preparation is not for the Twins. It's for the Astros, now one win away from the American League Championship Series after their 9-1 takedown of the Twins Tuesday.
There's a lot of precision with these efforts. Local distributorships supply these libations so visiting teams don't have to pack it up and travel. The visitor's clubhouse at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati was stocked and ready for a party last month when the Twins visited, but they fell short there and celebrated their division title a game later at home.
If the Twins fall short one more time, their season is over.
Houston is eyeing the ALCS. The Twins are in need of a rebound following this comprehensive loss in which they didn't pitch well, committed a costly error, failed to convert a bucketload of walks into runs and couldn't keep the score close.
The loss dropped the Twins all-time record in postseason Game 3s to 1-15.
Game 4 will be a test of the Twins' resolve, and their decisionmaking. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is faced with several choices that, if made correctly, will help the Twins force a Game 5 on Friday in Houston. Here's what he needs to do:
1. Coax a key hit out of this lineup. The Twins were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. When Royce Lewis and Carlos Correa struck out with runners on second and third in the first inning, it continued a pattern that has defined their playoffs. They are 4-for-27 in RBI situations in the series and 5-for-37 in the postseason. If they just touch the ball a couple of times, they could have scored runs. They drew seven walks in the game but had one hit going into the sixth inning. Not too many teams are going to advance in the postseason batting .227 as a team in the ALDS. Who will step up Wednesday?
2. Stop pitching to Yordan Alvarez. Baldelli agreed there comes a time when drastic action must be taken. "There are times where I think it's very, very much the right play to go out there and pitch to him, and there are other times where it might not be," Baldelli said. "It's going to depend on the game. It's going to depend on how everything plays out." Now is the time. Alvarez is batting .500 with four homers and six RBI in the series.
3. Sit Alex Kirilloff. He's 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in the postseason. His error in the first inning was one reason the Twins fell into a 4-0 hole. Donovan Solano, anyone? Kirilloff has plenty of ceiling as a hitter but looks overmatched this postseason.
4. Start Willi Castro. He drew a walk and drove in a run on Tuesday, which made him their offensive player of the game. Center field could be the best spot for him but left is a possibility. Righthanded hitters are batting .292 against Astros righthander José Urquidy with an .823 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Lefties: .215 and .731. Baldelli could bench Kirilloff and Matt Wallner if he follows those numbers. And we all know Willi can run.
5. Stop José Altuve. He homered in the first inning in Game 1, bunted for a hit in the first inning of Game 2 and led off Game 3 with a single on a pitch off the plate from Sonny Gray. He's been a pest. So has Alvarez. So was Jose Abreu on Tuesday, as he slugged two homers. The Twins need AAA insurance against Altuve, Alvarez and Abreu.
There are 27 outs left in the Twins' season at the moment. Can Baldelli's bunch make it 27 more?