After spending four hours, 37 minutes and 12 nerve-racking innings wresting the American League Central title from the Tigers in their one-game tiebreaker on Tuesday night, Twins players were lifted by adrenaline and the cheers of 55,088 fans in their victory lap around the Metrodome.
10/07/2009 10:33 AM ET
Twins fueled by fan energy
AL Central champs appreciate support from loud crowd
"I don't know where I had that extra energy," Mauer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune "I was just feeding off the crowd. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.
"I was surprised I got around there. It was a long game. The fans, they stuck around and gave us a great atmosphere. Players feed off of that."
Rockies have confidence in Street: The Rockies believe the back of their bullpen, led by Huston Street, can be a strength in their Division Series against the Phillies.
"The thing with Huston is that you know he's going to come into the game and throw strikes," setup man Rafael Betancourt told the Denver Post. "It's very important for him to show he's not afraid to throw the ball around the plate. Huston goes right after guys."
Street is 35-of-37 this season in save opportunities, helping the Rockies go 83-1 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
Martinez adapts quickly to Red Sox: Victor Martinez has been with the Red Sox for only two months, but the switch-hitting slugger acquired from the Indians before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline has quickly put his stamp on the team.
"As he goes, we go," starter Paul Byrd, a former teammate in Cleveland, told the Boston Herald. "And I'm not just talking on the field, but in the dugout."
Kazmir brings confidence into Fenway: The Angels have had a tough time in the playoffs against the Red Sox, but left-hander Scott Kazmir, whom they acquired from the Rays, is 8-7 with a 3.59 ERA lifetime against the Red Sox and is 6-4 with a 3.05 ERA in Fenway Park.
"I kind of like that stage; I really do," Kazmir told the Los Angeles Times of pitching in Fenway. "The crowd is on top of you, just all over you. I get pumped up and rise to the occasion."
Billingsley ready for October: Chad Billingsley, named the Dodgers' fourth starter for the NLDS, believes he has corrected some mechanical problems and was encouraged by his last two starts of the regular season.
"It's a different story in the playoffs," Billingsley told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a new season. You get a new life. The regular season's over. It's postseason, it's October. The whole playoff atmosphere is exciting."
Gorzelanny hoped to see a hometown Olympics: Having grown up on the South Side of Chicago, Tom Gorzelanny was one of many people who were excited about the idea of the Windy City hosting the 2016 Olympics. Instead, the Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"No one was expecting that," Gorzelanny told the Chicago Sun-Times. "You could see that on the faces of people at the Daley Center.
"It would have been a privilege to be a native and see something like that come to the city, to have world-class athletes come to our city and enjoy it as much as I do. It would have been great if they reinstated baseball [as an Olympic sport]. It was kind of a dream of mine to be part of a team that might have played here. It's disappointing, but [IOC members] didn't realize what a good city we have."
Bourn honored by writers as Astros MVP: Michael Bourn was voted the Astros' Most Valuable Player for 2009 by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The chapter also voted Wandy Rodriguez as the Pitcher of the Year, Jeff Fulchino as Rookie of the Year, and Brian Moehler was the team's Darryl Kile Good Guy Award recipient.
Bourn hit .286 for the Astros and led the NL with 61 steals while playing outstanding defense in center field.
"I felt like I could play baseball," Bourn told the Houston Chronicle. "I just had to prove it at this level."
Buckner, Mulvey in contention for fifth spot: Both Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey finished the 2009 season well for the Diamondbacks, leaving the right-handed pitchers in position to compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation next season.
"I think it's encouraging," manager A.J. Hinch told the Arizona Republic. "I think you temper your expectations until you truly get a look at your club in the offseason and what additions can be made. But I think they're in the mix."
Pena ends tied for home run lead: Despite missing most of the final month of the season, Carlos Pena still finished tied with Mark Teixeira of the Yankees for the AL home run title with 39. The Tampa Bay first baseman's season came to a premature end when he suffered two broken fingers after being hit by a pitch on Sept. 7 against the Yankees.
"When my injury happened, there was so much season left that the last thing on my mind was the fact that I was going to be able to be leading the league in home runs," Pena told the Tampa Tribune. "I didn't expect this to happen, so I'm extremely happy and thrilled."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pena is the first player in the live-ball era (since 1920) to lead the league in homers after missing the last 25 games.
Jurrjens taking pointers from Vazquez: Jair Jurrjens was selected as the NL Pitcher of the Month for September after going 4-1 with a 1.25 ERA in the game's final month. Jurrjens credits a lot of his success this year to fellow Braves starter Javier Vazquez.
"I haven't had any problems throwing strikes, but I had problems putting people away," Jurrjens told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I watch [Vazquez] pitch and see him go up and down [in the strike zone]. I went up [in the zone] on my strikeouts for a couple this year. Just watching him pitch and seeing how he set up people, I try to take that same approach to my game."
Gload and Helms join pinch-hitting elite: Ross Gload and Wes Helms combined for 38 pinch-hits this season for the Marlins, which tied a Major League record set in 1936 by Ed Coleman and Roy Peppers of the St. Louis Browns. Gload had 21 pinch-hits while Helms added 17.
"We would love to have broken it, but just to be mentioned in that category is an honor for me and him," Helms told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "That's our role, and that's our job, and it just makes us feel proud of the job we did off the bench this year."
Cain not going anywhere: General manager Brian Sabean threw cold water on media speculation that the Giants might consider parting with ace Matt Cain in an effort to bring a big bat to their lineup.
"I have a hard time trading anybody of that ilk, and why would we?" Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Trust me," Sabean said, "it's very difficult to trade for a middle-of-the-order hitter even with somebody like Matt."
Scales appreciative of opportunity: Bobby Scales is almost 32 years old, spent 11 years in the Minor Leagues, and reached the Major Leagues for the first time this season with the Cubs. He had a month-long call-up in May and was re-called in September.
"I never questioned my ability," Scales told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I just questioned whether I'd get the opportunity. I'm very blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to play here."
Hoffman quick to sign another deal with Brewers: The Brewers and Trevor Hoffman have reportedly agreed on terms for a new a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. Hoffman, who turns 42 this month, finished with a 1.83 ERA and 37 saves despite missing most of April with an oblique strain.
"Looking from the outside, you would have concerns about age. Being around him for a year, that's a non-factor," assistant general manager Gord Ash told MLB.com.
-- Red Line Editorial