I guess it was never meant to be. The Twins scraped into the ALDS play-offs and were swept by the mighty Yankees. I’m sure the folks at FOX and TBS must be wetting themselves with glee now that the two smallest franchises (Twins and Rockies) are out of the running, but evidently someone didn’t get the memo about the Boston Red Sox, whose three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels was probably even more of a disappointment considering their mammoth payroll and failure to show up until the final game, which they then proceeded to blow in the ninth inning.
It’s so strange that three of the best closers in baseball, Joe Nathan, Huston Street, and Jonathan Papelbon all failed in critical save situations, and just goes to show how much pressure and emphasis the game places on these guys. Yet it was Mariano Rivera, nearing 40, who showed everyone how it should be done, as the Yankees rolled over the Twins.
In all three games, the Twins led at one point, but couldn’t hold those leads. To some extent the Twins almost beat themselves with some horrible base-running antics that made them look like amateurs out there. But the Yankees were relentless, and that’s how they should be, yet still looked frail at some points. There’s probably an enormous amount of pressure on them to succeed, but I’m thinking it might be tougher for them against an Angels team who appear to be a little more ‘loose’ and enjoying themselves.
The Minnesota Twins had a great run. Another AL Central title, their fifth in eight years is certainly an achievement, but they’re still unable to convert these to championship victories which is obviously disappointing. The last few weeks of the regular season made for exciting viewing as a fan, and that game #163 was the icing on the cake. Despite injuries to some of their major starters and best hitters, despite playing in a weak division where they barely kept themselves above .500, this team showed a lot of guts and determination to grab the title, but also demonstrated a lot of problems and issues along the way.
With the move to Target Field in April, what will the 2010 season bring?
Alexi Casilla singles to right field, Carlos Gomez scores.
I’m not sure what else I can add to the already salient commentaries out there on yesterday’s epic tie-breaker victory for the Twins over Detroit in 12 innings. Just check my “Minnesota Gurus” section in the margin to read them.
All in all it was a tremendous, exciting, nerve-wracking, roller coaster of a game that in some ways pretty much mirrored both the Twins’ and Tigers’ up-and-down seasons. Rick Porcello pitched beautifully and silenced the 54,088 very lucky people who got to watch in the Metrodome, and with a 3-1 lead and Miguel Cabrera putting all his off-field troubles behind him, I must admit I was a little worried that the Twins had finally found their match.
But, like so often this year, Minnesota somehow found a way to fight back, and everyone seemed to contribute somehow, whether in the right way or the wrong way. The game was exciting because it had a little bit of everything: some bad umpire calls (but some great ones too), some sensational fielding but some errors of judgment, base-running mistakes by both teams, patient at-bats (yes, you Nick Punto — that was quite a job you did out there) and some absurd first-pitch impatient ground-outs (sorry Delmon Young, you’re back in the doghouse despite your recent heroics). The teams looked nervous out there, like they were fighting for their lives, and it pretty much made for the most exciting game I’ve ever seen at the Metrodome (and maybe beyond), and probably up there with the 1987 and 1991 World Series games in terms of historic victories. It was a game for the ages, and everyone who saw it will no doubt always remember it.
I know Tigers fans will blame some of the loss on missed calls and the crazy Metrodome but seriously, some calls also went against the Twins too (and many more earlier this year). The so-called ‘plunking’ of Aubrey Huff was a very close call which looked like it merely brushed his leg, Brandon Inge should really start to wear a tighter-fitting shirt instead of that Tellytubbie-sized thing he puts on before every game, and Ryan Raburn diving for a ball which he could have just played on the bounce instead of trying for the Sportscenter web gem probably turned Michael Cuddyer’s single into a triple: but of course that was because of the Metrodome lights…
So many excuses, but really, Detroit played an incredible game, were a little unlucky, and didn’t win this division because they failed to hold a lead both in this actual tiebreaker, but more costly, over the entire month of September. This time last month, the Twins were seven games back. Entering the final games of the year, they were three back with four to play. Minnesota went an outstanding 17-4 over the last 21 games and finally found the team spirit and battling nature that had somewhat eluded them previously. Detroit fans should be well aware that even though it didn’t happen for them this year, some time in the future they will have an opportunity to turn the tables at the Twins’ expense: it’s just how this game works sometimes.
So, the Yankees huh? The Twins are totally over matched, to be honest, I don’t think they stand a chance. Then again, Minnesota’s odds of winning even the AL Central a week or so ago were something absurd like 5%. Anything could happen, and I’m just delighted to have been following this scrappy, crazy, small-market team for the past few years and seeing what they can achieve. It’s David & Goliath for sure in the play-offs, but if the Twins can keep things competitive (and that’s really all you can ask), it could be an interesting few games ahead.
Not the best week for Twins baseball. After a relentless 14 games on the trot, because of inclement weather, Minnesota found themselves with three days off this week, and one day playing some pretty crappy baseball best forgotten about.
The three game series with Cleveland should hopefully be a bit better. Regardless of whether the Twins win or lose (of course, we want them to win, but you know what I mean), it’d be nice to see them truly competing. To be honest, their current 7-9 record seems a little flattering. Only a couple of those games has been a true ‘blow-out’ (the 12-5 victory over the White Sox, and the 9-2 win over the Angels), the rest have been very close calls or sneaking up on teams from behind.
Of course, a win is a win, in whatever form it takes, but it’d be really encouraging if this weekend the Twins could command a game from start to finish, scoring runs early and limiting the offense of their opponents. The Indians have had a mixed start to the season, that’s for sure, but there’s no denying their batting lineup is strong, but if Minnesota can silence them this weekend, it could be a great series, so good luck fellas.
But of course, who cares anyway when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees this weekend (yawn). Justin Morneau could smack three grand slams, Nick Blackburn could throw a no-hitter, and Travis Hafner could hit for the cycle twice, but if Big Papi so much as farts, it’ll be all over ESPN and FOX.