The MLB post season kicked off in an amazing fashion as the Twins won the American League Central title in an amazing game in the Metrodome. The game went back and forth and had more "what ifs" than a shy kid in high school. This Fan's adrenaline-rushed impression is that the game was one of the top five best games ever watched with these eyes.
The game started with a 3-0 lead for the Tigers on a two-run homer by a sober and apologetic Miguel Cabrera and an RBI single by Ordonez. Porcello, the 20 year old wonder, gave a run back with an unwise throw to first to try to pick off a runner. The Twins scratched out another run to make it 3-2. Orlando Cabrera then put the Twins ahead, 4-3, with a two-run homer off of Zach Minor (more on that later).
In a hysterical aside, following Bill Simmons on Twitter, he took exception to a post game interview by Orlando Cabrera who said it was the best game he ever played in. Cabrera, you may remember, was a part of the Boston Red Sox when they finally overcame the monkey and beat the Yankees in the 2005 playoffs. Simmons' Tweet? "He is dead to me." Ha!
Okay. Let's talk about Zach Minor. In save situations this year (or hold situations if you like), Minor has given up 23 base runners in 12 innings of work. Why wouldn't you go with Lyon and then Rodney? Why risk Minor? Instead of Minor, with the season on the line, why not go with Jackson? In any case, Minor couldn't hold the lead and it was a seesaw the rest of the way.
The Tigers tied the game up on a Magglio Ordonez homer and then went ahead in the tenth inning on a beautiful slide into home by an unknown Don Kelly, who looks all of twelve years old. The Twins tied it up in the bottom of the tenth on a real bad play by Raburn who turned a Cuddyer single into a triple by trying an ill-fated dive in left field. Raburn would redeem himself later that same inning by gunning Casilla at the plate after catching a line drive. The game was like that. Both teams left 12 on base. Both teams had wonderful opportunities.
In the top of the twelfth, the bases were loaded with Inge at the plate. He got hit (or his uniform did - the replay clearly showed it) which should have scored a run. But the ump missed it. He missed it. Didn't ask for help from his friends when questioned. He just flat out missed it. Can anyone say, "REPLAY Bud Selig!" That cost a run and the Tigers would not score. Laird struck out to end the inning by swinging on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly a ball. That too would have scored a run. Which leads to another question.
Why, oh why, Jim Leyland, who the Fan believes is one of the best managers ever, why would you not pinch hit for Laird in that situation? The guy went 0-6 and personally left ten men on base in the game. This is the Varitek Effect, the mistaken belief that the catcher makes all the difference for the pitching staff, etc. Why not bat Thames or somebody? Laird has a 66 OPS+. You leave your season in the balance for that?
And the last question of the night. Why throw out an obviously gassed Fernando Rodney in the last inning? He'd already pitched parts of three innings when he is used to throwing one. The last inning, the flame-thrower was throwing nothing but change ups. He had nothing. Nothing. The loss at that point was inevitable.
But credit the Twins. They play smart baseball. They are well managed. They got the job done. And they were lucky enough to win the coin flip to be the home team for this event. It's a shame that the Tigers had to lose, but somebody had to. It was one heckova game...one of the best this Fan has ever witnessed.