MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have long been out of contention this year, but manager Ron Gardenhire said he's hoping his team can play the role of spoiler against the Indians this weekend.
The Indians enter the four-game series at Target Field with a one-game lead over the Rangers in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"We're playing a team in the pennant race here," Gardenhire said. "They're one game up. So there's going to be a lot of intensity coming from their dugout. Hopefully we can join in with it. There's a lot to play for because all of baseball is watching this series. I'm hoping our guys are going to want to get after it and play the game the right way and give these guys a run for their money and make them earn it."
Gardenhire, who is in the last year of his contract, remains just two wins shy of 1,000 for his career. But he's maintained that he's kept the thought of reaching the milestone out of his head.
The Twins have also had success against the Indians in recent years, as they are 18-12 against Cleveland over their past 30 meetings dating back to 2012.
St. Peter, Gardenhire praise Selig's contributions
MINNEAPOLIS -- Given Commissioner Bud Selig's close relationship with the Pohlad family, the Twins had nothing but positive things to say about Selig, who announced on Thursday he'll officially step down in January 2015.
Twins President Dave St. Peter commended Selig for his role in making Major League Baseball a $9 billion industry. Under Selig's watch, baseball has instituted several changes, such as the Wild Card, Interleague Play and revenue sharing. And baseball is currently in the midst of unprecedented labor peace dating back to the 1994 strike.
"I think history will show that Commissioner Selig was probably as progressive and innovative as any leader has ever been in any professional sport," St. Peter said. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what's he accomplished to help transform the sport. It led to things such as revenue sharing, which has led to widespread competitive balance in the game, facility development, Wild Card play, Interleague Play and now replay.
"I know in our sport, and I'd challenge you to find another in another sport, I'm not sure if anyone has been at the helm for more change than Selig. I think ultimately that will be his legacy. I think he'll leave the game in a much better spot than he inherited."
St. Peter acknowledged that many Twins fans still hold a grudge against Selig for his role in the contraction talks of 2002 that saw baseball owners vote to contract two teams, which was expected to be the Twins and Montreal Expos. But St. Peter said Selig was supportive of keeping the Twins in Minnesota and helped them in their quest to build Target Field, which opened in 2010.
"I'd like to think a lot of that has worn off, but it's no doubt a part of the history," St. Peter said. "No one is going to change it. It came out of a feeling of hopelessness for our franchise. But I think what a lot of people don't know is what happened behind the scenes with the Commissioner and others championing the Minnesota market. Ultimately, the Twins franchise, despite the challenges of where we are on the field right now, is in a much better place than when Selig took over as Commissioner. I think a lot of the success for our franchise can be attributed to his leadership."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also commended Selig, as Gardenhire was the manager of the '02 Twins that were on the verge of contraction but ended up winning the American League Central and advanced to the AL Championship Series that year.
"Him letting us keep our baseball team, it starts with that," Gardenhire said. "I have a lot of respect for the man because of that. We were able to keep this team here in Minnesota. Some of us thought they'd never take this team away but there was talk about contraction. He was in charge and I think he had a lot of say-so in us keeping our baseball team."
• Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who has been out since suffering a bruised right knee during batting practice Monday, is available to pinch-hit, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. Arcia took batting practice on Thursday without any issues and is expected to see action before the season ends on Sunday.
• The Twins set a franchise record when they were shut out for the 15th time in a 1-0 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. The Twins have been shut out more than any team in the American League, as only the Marlins (18) and Braves (17) have been held scoreless more times this season.
• The Twins struck out 13 times against the Tigers on Wednesday and have now struck out 1,382 times, which ranks as the fifth-highest total in Major League history.