10/04/09 8:56 PM EST
Twins sink KC, force game No. 163
Minnesota tied atop Central as Kubel, Young hit two HRs
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Winner take all
|The results of the seven previous one-game tiebreakers in MLB history.|
|Sept. 30, 2008||AL Central||White Sox 1, Twins 0|
|Oct. 1, 2007||NL Wild Card||Rockies 9, Padres 8, 13 innings|
|Oct. 4, 1999||NL Wild Card||Mets 5, Reds 0|
|Sept. 28, 1998||NL Wild Card||Cubs 5, Giants 3|
|Oct. 2, 1995||AL West||Mariners 9, Angels 1|
|Oct. 6, 1980||NL West||Astros 7, Dodgers 1|
|Oct. 2, 1978||AL East||Yankees 5, Red Sox 4|
"When we needed a win, where did we go?" said former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek during the postgame ceremony . "We went to the Dome."The Twins certainly created some magic at the Metrodome this weekend in their sweep of the Royals. And on Sunday, in their latest of what's been a string of must-win contests, the Twins turned to Carl Pavano on three days' rest. Pavano delivered a solid start, giving up four runs and striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings, and early in his start it seemed like perhaps he might be helping his team to clinch the title outright. While the Tigers had a 4-0 lead when the Twins contest began, the White Sox trimmed the lead to 5-3 at about the same time as Minnesota took a 7-0 advantage. So the crowd inside the Metrodome took notice of Chicago's score and began chanting, "Let's go White Sox!" But Detroit held on to win, and it seemed like perhaps the Twins had gotten too comfortable with their own 8-1 lead. Having allowed just one run in the fourth, Pavano found trouble to start the sixth. He gave up three runs, as the Royals trimmed the lead to 8-4 on Alex Gordon's solo home run. And that's when the Twins turned things over to the bullpen. With the bases empty and two outs in the sixth, Bobby Keppel and Ron Mahay combined to the load the bases, bringing Billy Butler to the plate representing the tying run. Jon Rauch entered the game and froze Butler, striking him out to get the club out of the inning unscathed. "Going out there with the bases loaded against their best hitter, best RBI guy, that's a shaky feeling for a manager," Gardenhrie said. "I walked out there and said, 'Let's go. You've got to make a big pitch and get a big out.' And boy did he make a good pitch there." From there, the Twins only added to their lead and found a way to make sure that the postgame ceremony would not be able to crown this the final game in the Dome, even if they have to play one more game before determining if another postseason series will be played under the roof. "There's still one game left," Cuddyer said. "We're not in the playoffs yet, even though it's going to be a playoff-like game." As recently as Sept. 6, the Twins sat seven games back in the AL Central. They then faced another uphill battle as they trailed by three games, after losing two of the first three of their four-game set in Detroit last week, with four to play. "Everybody has written us off, and rightfully so," Gardenhire said. "We looked pretty ugly. But we didn't write ourselves off and that's all that matters." So, the Twins will now play for their fifth division title in the past eight seasons. They'll have a day off before they are set to play host to the Tigers on Tuesday. The day off is due to the Metrodome already being booked on Monday for the Vikings-Packers football game. But the Twins didn't mind having to wait an extra day to play, especially since they seemed more than happy just to be in this position. "It would have been a lot nicer if we could have finished it off today, but we can't complain either way," closer Joe Nathan said. "To force Game 163, I think a lot of people around here definitely didn't think this game was going to happen."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.