It will be pretty hard to get interested in post-season baseball after living through every pitch of Game #163 from Minnesota's DopeyDome last night. It was an incredibly entertaining game, even if the final score was bad. Even baseball fans with no rooting interest are calling it one of the most exciting games ever played. Here's a replay:
The Tigers broke ahead 3-0, the Twins cut that to 3-1, then to 3-2 and next they pulled ahead 4-3. But, what's this? The Tigers came back and tied it at 4 on a Magglio Ordonez HR in the 8th. In the 9th 3rd baseman Brandon Inge saved the game with a diving stop to his left. In the top of the 10th Inge drove in the go ahead run and Tigers hopes were high. A poor play in left by Raburn led to a Twins tie in the bottom of the 10th but they didn't win it because of an incredible throw by the same Raburn-- an inning ending double play wher he caught a fly in left and threw out the tagging runner at home. Wheeee!
Then, disaster struck. In the top of the 12th the Tigers loaded the bases with just one out. Brandon Inge was up and was hit by a pitch from Minnesota's eighth pitcher, Keppel. He started to first as Miggy Cabrera trotted home with the forced-in go-ahead run. But the home plate ump blew the call. He didn't see the ball hit Inge and refused to ask the 2nd base umpire for help when manager Jim Leyland requested same. If he had gotten the call right the Tigers would have been up 6-5 and the bases would still be loaded with just one out.
The Twins went on to score on a tiring Fernando Rodney to win in 12.
Would Minny have won anyway if Detroit had gotten their deserved run in the 12th? What if the Tigers had rallied further and gone up 7 or 8 or 9 to 5?
We'll never know. The box score will never show the RBI-HBP that was muffed. It shows only that the Minnesota Twins won Game #163 in 2009.
Meanwhile Tiger fans seem to be focused on their guys playing .500 ball down the stretch to get caught rather than the improbable run of the Twins who went 17-4 in their final 21 games. (3 of those 4 losses were to Detroit, btw.) Give the devil his due. I don't like the Twins but I respect the hell out of the way they go about their business every year. And, they won without Bret Favre!
It was a great season for Detroit baseball. At this time last year they had just finished last in the AL Central. Their projected rotation for 2009 was Verlander coming off a poor '08, Gallarraga coming off a solid '08, Bonderman, Robertson and Willis. If you had said on this date in 2008 that the last place Detroits would have 60% of that rotation on the DL most of the season and that their best pitcher in '08 would falter badly you wouldn't have picked them to be in 1st place longer than any MLB team not named Dodgers this season. But that's what they did. With a pieced together rotation that performed very well, a bullpen that did its job, and an everyday lineup that saw platoons where there should have been solid veterans playing. It was a fun year for baseball fans. I guess fun to some people is getting a 12 game lead and holding it all year with a $200+Million payroll. To each his own.
It's baseball. Great teams lose over 60 times a year. Teams that barely play .500 ball all year win the World Series (see: Cards 2006). It's a game of failure and redemption. The best game on the planet. I love it. And, I support the team I've supported since 1958-- win or lose.