One season after missing the playoffs by one run and one game, the Minnesota Twins came out on the other end with a 6-5, 12th inning victory in a one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers. After more than four and a half hours, the Twins became the American League Central Division champions for the first time since the 2006 season.
The emotional roller coaster began in the third inning when the Tigers took a three-run lead, and continued the rest of the way with miraculous escapes from jams and big hits. Fans screamed louder than they have in some time, waved their “Championship Drive” Homer Hankys, and hoped that someway, somehow, the Twins could avoid a second straight tiebreaker loss and win another division behind manager Ron Gardenhire.
With no Justin Morneau, no Kevin Slowey, no Glen Perkins, and little Francisco Liriano, the Minnesota Twins completed a historic comeback. Down seven games almost four weeks ago to the date, without one of the best hitters in baseball, and different starting pitchers, the Twins rallied back. For the first time in baseball history, a team came back from a three-game deficit in four games to win the division.
As unlikely as it seemed last Thursday night, is how real it has become. Overcoming odds is nothing new for the Minnesota Twins, but even this latest effort is hard to fathom.
There was the huge double-play behind Joe Nathan, the huge strikeouts from Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay, and Bobby Keppel, and the strong effort from the once demoted Jesse Crain. There was the homerun by Jason Kubel, the unbelievable homerun by Orlando Cabrera, and the game-winning single by Alexi Casilla and run by Carlos Gomez. And finally, there was the celebration for the team’s fifth Central Division title.
Where would the Twins be without Carl Pavano, Rauch, Mahay and Cabrera? Where would they be if they hadn’t been in front of a regular season Metrodome record, 54,088 fans? That question thankfully needs no answer, with one of the greatest baseball games in recent memory, The Minnesota Twins are going to the playoffs.