Detroit at Minnesota

Final 12th
W: B. Keppel (1-1) L: F. Rodney (2-5)
HR: DET - M. Cabrera (34), M. Ordonez (9)   MIN - J. Kubel (28), O. Cabrera (9)

Twins clinch AL Central with playoff win over Tigers in 12th wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Metrodome erupted in a jet-like roar as Carlos Gomez zoomed home with the winning run to finish off an AL Central race -- and a thrilling tiebreaker -- that didn't want to end.

Minnesota Twins wouldn't quit, while the Detroit Tigers finished their historic fade. And there was little time for the Twins to celebrate, because the New York Yankees were waiting.

Champagne sprays, Twins hold sway ... for less than a day
by Danny Knobler
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Alexi Casilla singled home the winning run with one out in the 12th inning and the Twins rallied for a 6-5 victory Tuesday night, completing a colossal collapse for the Tigers.

"This is the most unbelievable game I've ever played or seen," Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera said.

How was that for bonus baseball?

As Gomez scored from second -- well ahead of a late throw from right field -- Homer Hankies spiraled. The Twins celebrated and scrambled: They had 21 hours to get ready for Game 1 of the AL Division Series at Yankee Stadium against New York ace CC Sabathia. He'll face rookie Brian Duensing.

The Tigers will head home instead. They became the first team in history to blow a three-game lead with four games left.

"I guess it's fitting to say there was a loser in this game because we lost the game, but it's hard for me to believe there was a loser in this game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Both teams played their hearts out. You can't ask for anything more than that."

The Twins overcame a seven-game gap in the final month, went 17-4 to pull even on the final weekend and won their fifth division title in eight years.

"We just feel like we have nothing to lose, man," outfielder Denard Span said.

Both teams had chance after chance to end it earlier, and each club scored in the 10th. Casilla was thrown out at the plate to end that inning by left fielder Ryan Raburn after tagging up.

The Tigers thought they'd taken the lead in the 12th. But with the bases loaded, plate umpire Randy Marsh ruled that Brandon Inge was not hit by a pitch by Bobby Keppel. The replay appeared to show the pitch grazing Inge's billowing uniform.

"No matter what we did, it seems like it wasn't meant to be. This is the best game, by far, that I've ever played in no matter the outcome," Inge said.

It was the first AL tiebreaker to go to extra innings, making up for Minnesota's disappointment last year when it lost 1-0 in Chicago to the White Sox in an AL Central tiebreaker. Had the Twins lost, it would've been the final baseball game at the Metrodome. Instead, the Twins get the Yankees -- New York was 7-0 against Minnesota this season.

"We're not afraid. I can guarantee you that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: "We're not going to have to face questions like 'Can you beat them?' like we've had to answer during the course of the year. Once the playoffs start though, it's a new series and we know the importance of each game. You can pretty much throw everything else out the window."

A day after Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers at the Dome -- Monday Night Football is what delayed this tiebreaker for a day -- the Twins pulled off a Tuesday Night Frenzy.

Gardenhire and Leyland made so many moves for defense and relief that the lineups and pitching staffs were depleted by the end.

Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney (2-5) worked his longest appearance of the season, getting the last two outs of the ninth. But he didn't have enough to get out of the 12th. The Twins rushed out of the dugout in celebration even before Gomez reached the plate, and their comeback from a seven-game gap with 20 to play was complete.

Joe Mauer, who heard thunderous "M-V-P!" chants from the largest regular-season baseball crowd in Metrodome history throughout the game, led his team on a sprint around the warning track as they slapped hands with fans in the first rows.

"One of the best games I'll ever play in," Mauer said.

Keppel, Minnesota's eighth pitcher, loaded the bases with one out in the 12th. After the non-call on Inge, second baseman Nick Punto then scooped Inge's grounder and fired home in time to get the runner on the force. Then Keppel struck out Gerald Laird to squelch that rally.

Twins closer Joe Nathan found trouble in the ninth when consecutive singles put runners at the corners, but he got a strikeout and a line-drive double play to end that threat. The four-time All-Star gave two huge pumps of his right arm as he spun to thank his defense and run to the dugout, preserving the tie.

Inge's two-out double in the 10th gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead, but Michael Cuddyer sliced a triple past Raburn in left and scored on Matt Tolbert's bouncing single through the middle in the bottom of the inning.

On the potential winning sacrifice fly, though, Casilla strayed a bit too far from third and was thrown out by Raburn trying to score to end the inning. The split-second Casilla needed to retouch the base might have cost him the run.

He more than made up for that mistake later.

According to sports researcher STATS LLC, only three teams since 1901 have blown a three-game lead in the standings with four games left. The Houston Astros lost three straight games to Los Angeles in 1980, but they recovered to defeat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game for the NL West. Milwaukee lost three in a row to Baltimore in 1982 to force a tie, but beat the Orioles in the final regular season game to win the AL East.

After splitting four in Detroit last week -- a loss in the series finale Thursday would've given the division to the Tigers -- the Twins came home for the final scheduled series in the bubble needing a sweep of the Kansas City Royals and did just that.

So with 54,088 fans in attendance, the place was erupting with noise and excitement. The chants for Mauer, who wrapped up his third batting title, were deafening. Leyland even told his players before the game to think of the loudest experience of their life and multiply it by four to anticipate the decibel level for this game. Dome ball came in handy again, on a day when the city was drenched by cold rain.

Rookie starter Rick Porcello pitched well beyond his 20 years for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera made up for a miserable weekend -- on and off the field -- with a two-run homer against Scott Baker in the third inning that made it 3-0. The crowd chanted "al-co-ho-lic" right before Cabrera went deep, a rude reference to the first baseman's fight with his wife after he came home late and drunk.

The Twins crept back, though, and Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the seventh gave them a brief lead that Magglio Ordonez ended with his leadoff homer in the eighth.

"We were dead and buried a couple times, and our team just kept coming back," Twins general manager Bill Smith said.


  • This was the ninth tiebreaker game in baseball history, and the third straight year with a 163rd game. Only two of them went to extra innings.
  • Seven members of the Metrodome's cleaning and maintenance crews were honored on the mound before the game for the work of those groups in converting the field back and forth from baseball to football in light of Monday's Packers-Vikings game.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Joe Mauer gets a deserved champagne bath after he leads the Twins back to the postseason.
Joe Mauer gets a deserved champagne bath after he leads the Twins back to the postseason. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game

A. Casilla
AB 1
R 0
H 1
HR 0

M. Ordonez
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF5120110 .249
Placido Polanco, 2B6010024 .285
Magglio Ordonez, RF5222003 .310
    Clete Thomas, RF1000000 .240
Miguel Cabrera, 1B5122100 .324
Carlos Guillen, DH3000111 .242
    Wilkin Ramirez, PR-DH0000000 .364
   a- Aubrey Huff, PH-DH0000000 .241
    Don Kelly, PR-DH1110000 .250
Ryan Raburn, LF4020211 .291
Brandon Inge, 3B5011108 .230
Gerald Laird, C60000210 .225
Ramon Santiago, SS4010001 .267
    Adam Everett, PR-SS1000010 .238
a-hit by pitch for Ramirez in the 10th
2B - Miguel Cabrera (34, Baker), Brandon Inge (16, Crain)
HR - Magglio Ordonez (9, Guerrier), Miguel Cabrera (34, Baker)
RBI - Magglio Ordonez 2 (50), Miguel Cabrera 2 (103), Brandon Inge (84)
2-OUT RBI - Magglio Ordonez (21), Miguel Cabrera 2 (34), Brandon Inge (28)
Team LOB - 12
Outfield Assists - Ryan Raburn 1
DP - Raburn-Laird
E - Rick Porcello (2, Throwing)
Detroit Tigers
Rick Porcello 5.2421281 3.96
Zach Miner (BS,4) 0.2422011 4.29
Fu-Te Ni 0.1000000 2.61
Brandon Lyon 1.2000110 2.86
Fernando Rodney (L,2-5) 3422310 4.40
IBB - Mauer by Fernando Rodney, by Young
HBP - Harris (by Zach Miner)
Pitches-Strikes - Rick Porcello 92-59, Zach Miner 23-15, Fu-Te Ni 4-3, Brandon Lyon 26-18, Fernando Rodney 48-28
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rick Porcello 4-5, Brandon Lyon 4-0, Fernando Rodney 5-2
Batters Faced - Rick Porcello 23, Zach Miner 7, Fu-Te Ni 1, Brandon Lyon 6, Fernando Rodney 15
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF-RF5010011 .311
Orlando Cabrera, SS6112012 .284
Joe Mauer, C4020210 .365
Jason Kubel, RF4111014 .300
    Carlos Gomez, CF2110002 .229
Michael Cuddyer, 1B5110111 .276
Delmon Young, LF5010111 .284
Jose Morales, DH2000020 .311
   a- Brendan Harris, PH-DH1000100 .261
    Alexi Casilla, PR-DH1011000 .202
Matt Tolbert, 3B5121023 .232
Nick Punto, 2B4110113 .228
a-hit by pitch for Morales in the 6th
2B - Joe Mauer (30, Porcello)
3B - Michael Cuddyer (7, Rodney)
HR - Orlando Cabrera (9, Miner), Jason Kubel (28, Porcello)
SH - Denard Span (12)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera 2 (77), Jason Kubel (103), Alexi Casilla (17), Matt Tolbert (19)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Kubel (35)
Team LOB - 12
DP - Tolbert-Punto-Cuddyer, Cabrera-Cuddyer
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker 6633221 4.37
Jon Rauch 0.2000000 3.60
Jose Mijares0100000 2.34
Matt Guerrier 0.2111201 2.36
Joe Nathan 1.2200020 2.10
Jesse Crain 1.1111020 4.70
Ron Mahay 0.1000010 4.29
Bobby Keppel (W,1-1) 1.1100210 4.83
IBB - Raburn by Bobby Keppel
HBP - Huff (by Jesse Crain)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 91-59, Jon Rauch 4-3, Jose Mijares 7-4, Matt Guerrier 22-11, Joe Nathan 21-14, Jesse Crain 16-12, Ron Mahay 4-3, Bobby Keppel 33-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 4-11, Matt Guerrier 2-0, Jesse Crain 2-0, Bobby Keppel 1-2
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 25, Jon Rauch 2, Jose Mijares 1, Matt Guerrier 5, Joe Nathan 6, Jesse Crain 6, Ron Mahay 1, Bobby Keppel 7
Game Information
Attendance - 54088
Game Time - 4:37
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Randy Marsh, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom