was able to get off work during lunch break (11:30a -12pm) to take four of the clients from work to see several of the Twins players (Jason Kubel, Denard Span, Tony Olivia-"old timer", & Dick Bremer-announcer in town (Morris Area High School Gym).
"A Minnesota Twins legend who was instrumental in the team getting its first taste of success came to Morris on Thursday with two young players the organization hopes can help the team revisit those glory days.
Former Twins star Tony Oliva joined current Twins Denard Span and Jason Kubel for a stop at the Morris Area High School gymnasium on Thursday.
The annual Twins Caravan ensemble included Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer and team mascot T.C.
The stop was brief but fans got to hear from Oliva and the two current players, ask a few questions and receive give-aways for correctly answering some Twins trivia questions.
Many of the youths at the Caravan probably are too young to even remember their parents recalling stories their parents told about Oliva’s career.
But in a phrase, he was a longer, leaner version of Kirby Puckett before Puckett became the face of the franchise.
Oliva broke in with the Twins in 1961, but had such a difficult time that he was cut and about to return to his native Cuba. But then, Oliva might be one of the few people for whom the Bay of Pigs fiasco was a good thing.
"Saved me," Oliva said.
Unable to return home because of it, he quickly became one of baseball’s top hitters. He’s a career .304 hitter who won three American League batting titles in a 15-year career that essentially amounted to 11 full seasons because of injuries.
Five times he led the AL in hits and four times led the league in doubles. He hit 220 career home runs and had 947 runs batted in.
While it is still difficult after all these years to understand Oliva’s broken English, the crowd certainly understood Bremer’s sentiment that Oliva has earned a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Kubel and Span are where Oliva was 45 years ago, and were key players in helping the Twins come within a 1-0 one-game tiebreaker loss to the Chicago White Sox of a Central Division championship. The Twins were picked to finish near the bottom of the division, with Cleveland and Detroit expected to be the division powers.
“A lot of people were surprised but now us,” Kubel said. “We know we’ve got a great team and we know we’ll be better this year.”
After dealing with injuries early in his career, Kubel, 26, broke out last season, mostly as the Twins’ designated hitter. He hit .278 and was second on the team with 20 home runs and he had 78 RBI in 463 at-bats.
Span wasn’t even on the roster when the 2008 season began, but once he got his break he established himself immediately.
Regular right fielder Michael Cuddyer missed most of the year with injuries. Span was called up to fill the void, and he soon was the team’s lead-off hitter and regular right fielder.
"Once I got my opportunity, I made the most of it," he said.
Span hit .294 and scored 70 runs in 93 games, and his 18 steals were second on the team behind Carlos Gomez.
"I’m ready for the season to start," Span said. "It was a rough ending to the season last year but last year was a successful season for the team."
This off-season, the Twins have been criticized by some for not trading or bidding in the free agent market for an established star to ostensibly push them over the top as a contender.
Span said he doesn’t believe a move was necessary.
"The organization feels we have a good, young core of guys that work good together,” he said. “I think we’re going to grow together and get better together."
"KANSAS CITY, Mo. — By the time Michael Cuddyer's 22nd home run of the season splashed into the fountains in left center at Kauffman Stadium, Minnesota's seventh-inning breakout had reached its pinnacle.
The homer, a two-run shot, wasn't just Cuddyer's second of the game — it was his second of the inning and the highlight of a 10-3 victory Sunday over the Kansas City Royals.
Cuddyer's first home run trot led off the seventh, cracking a 1-1 tie. The Twins' lead grew to 9-1 the second time he tapped home plate.
"I don't think I've ever had two hits in one inning," Cuddyer joked after his 3-for-5 day. "Pretty special."
Cuddyer became the first Twin in franchise history to homer twice in the same frame as the Twins swept the Royals and pulled 4 1/2 games back of Detroit, losers to Oakland on Sunday. The win finished a 5-2 road trip, a resounding success for a ballclub that started the month 4-10.
The Twins' seventh-inning outburst also featured a Brendan Harris double, a Delmon Young single, a Carlos Gomez hit-and-run and a perfectly executed bunt by Alexi Casilla to load the bases before Denard Span cleared them with a three-run triple. Six Twins took turns at the plate before the first out of the inning, and even that scored a run (via an Orlando Cabrera sacrifice fly).
The seventh marked Minnesota's most prolific offensive inning of the season and highlighted all that had gone right for Minnesota during the weeklong trip: contributions
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from throughout the lineup. During their three-game series in Kansas City, the Twins' bottom three hitters combined to hit .314 with seven runs batted in and 10 runs scored.
Three of Minnesota's five wins on the road trip were in comeback fashion, and all of them came without Justin Morneau, who played just three innings of the team's seven-game trip before being sidelined because of dizziness.
"We made no mistake about it. We had to win, we had to at least win the series," Cuddyer said. "We learned that we've got a lot of fight left in us. I think we learned that in Texas. ... It was a tough series here, too. Those first two games were not easy. They could have gone either way, and we had fight left in us then, and to be able to still come back in a day game right after that and keep the throttle down was encouraging."
So was Carl Pavano.
Sunday's starter breezed through the first five innings, sputtered slightly in a one-run sixth, then loaded the bases in the seventh. The right-hander slipped free from the jam, allowing just one run to score, and finished up with a much-needed seven innings of work.
He allowed just two runs on eight hits, walked none and struck out two in seven innings, rebounding from a four-inning, five-run outing in Texas on Tuesday. After falling victim to a high pitch count early in his previous start, Pavano poured in first-pitch strikes (he faced 29 batters and threw 22 first-pitch strikes), worked ahead in counts and clicked through Kansas City's lineup with considerable ease.
With a week's worth of successes to pump them up, the Twins return to the Metrodome tonight for nine games against Baltimore, Texas and the second-place Chicago White Sox. They'll have to do better this time than they did in their last spell at home, a 2-4 disappointment against the Royals and Cleveland Indians.
Pavano, for one, likes his new team's chances.
"I haven't been here long, but you know the character and the tenacity of this team," said Pavano, who retired the side in order three times Sunday and at one point sat down 16 of 18 batters. "We don't give up, and I think it starts from above; it starts from Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire) and our coaching staff. They put us in a good mental position every day to go out and fight and win ballgames, and we take it from there."
Twins Games I Attended
I (Sal) went to a great game this afternoon with friends from work.
2B: Rodriguez, I (19, Baker, S), Byrd (39, Rauch).
HR: Cruz, N (28, 7th inning off Baker, S, 1 on, 1 out).
TB: Borbon; Young, M; Byrd 2; Kinsler; Cruz, N 5; Rodriguez, I 2; Andrus, El.
RBI: Andrus, El (27), Cruz, N 2 (62).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Hamilton; Byrd; Kinsler; Young, M 2.
Team RISP: 1-for-9.
Team LOB: 8.
SB: Borbon (11, 2nd base off Baker, S/Redmond, M).
E: Cruz, N (4, fielding).
Outfield assists: Byrd (Span at 2nd base).
1-Ran for Kubel in the 8th. 2-Ran for Redmond, M in the 8th.
2B: Punto (9, Millwood), Morneau (30, Millwood), Span (11, Grilli).
3B: Redmond, M (1, Millwood).
HR: Kubel (21, 4th inning off Millwood, 1 on, 0 out).
TB: Span 3; Morneau 2; Kubel 5; Cuddyer; Harris, B; Redmond, M 3; Punto 3.
RBI: Kubel 2 (75), Harris, B (32), Redmond, M (7), Punto (29).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Morneau; Mauer; Punto; Redmond, M; Casilla, A 2.
Team RISP: 3-for-16.
Team LOB: 9.
E: Nathan (1, throw).
Texas IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Millwood 6.0 6 2 2 2 2 1 3.61
Grilli (H, 6) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 4.24
Wilson, C (BS, 4)(L, 4-6) 1.0 3 3 3 1 1 0 3.30
Minnesota IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Baker, S 7.0 6 3 3 1 6 1 4.44
Rauch (W, 3-2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 4.07
Nathan (S, 34) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1.74
Pitches-strikes: Millwood 114-75, Grilli 20-11, Wilson, C 27-18, Baker, S 98-71, Rauch 17-10, Nathan 22-16.
Groundouts-flyouts: Millwood 5-11, Grilli 0-1, Wilson, C 2-0, Baker, S 6-9, Rauch 0-1, Nathan 1-1.
Batters faced: Millwood 26, Grilli 4, Wilson, C 8, Baker, S 28, Rauch 4, Nathan 6.
Umpires: HP: Bill Miller. 1B: Derryl Cousins. 2B: Mike Estabrook. 3B: Jim Joyce.
Weather: 70 degrees, dome.
August 30, 2009
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner
Late rally helps Twins sink Rangers-
Small ball sparks three-run eighth; Nathan escapes ninth " MINNEAPOLIS -- All weekend long, the Twins struggled to put together much offense against the Rangers, at one point going 19 consecutive innings without scoring a run. In their win Friday, all three runs came in the first inning. On Saturday, they never crossed home plate.
It was a bit fitting, then, that Minnesota waited until the final minutes of the weekend series to scrape together three big runs in the eighth inning Sunday, coming from behind to top the Rangers, 5-3.
The win gave the Twins the series victory, the team's third straight winning series. It also kept Minnesota 4 1/2 games behind division-leading Detroit and a game and a half ahead of Chicago -- its next opponent -- in the American League Central standings.
"We're playing a little bit better baseball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's kind of fun."
Fun could also be one way to describe Minnesota's eighth inning. Trailing, 3-2, the Twins put together three runs -- two on balls that never left the infield -- to take a 5-3 lead before closer Joe Nathan saved it in the ninth.
Minnesota's first run of the eighth came on a base hit to left by third baseman Brendan Harris, as his single off reliever C.J. Wilson split third baseman Michael Young and shortstop Elvis Andrus and drove in Justin Morneau from second.
One batter later, catcher Mike Redmond -- who earlier in the game hit just his third career triple -- hit a chopper to first base that was fielded by Hank Blalock. Carlos Gomez, pinch-running for Jason Kubel, took off from third base on the contact and beat Blalock's throw home to give the Twins the lead.
"I was going to make contact in that situation no matter what," Redmond said. "I knew with [Gomez] at third, all I had to do was just get it on the ground. As long as I kept it away from the pitcher, he had a chance to score."
The Twins' late rally wasn't quite done, as Nick Punto's squeeze bunt brought home Harris, pushing Minnesota's lead to 5-3.
"That's small ball at its finest right there," Harris said. "A couple singles, a walk, a squeeze play, chopper. We haven't really got too much going all series. We had to piece it together."
"Those guys are a speed-oriented team," said Wilson (4-6). "I don't know. ... Somebody must have sacrificed a chicken for that one."
The three-run eighth helped Minnesota overcome a big two-run homer in the seventh inning by Texas slugger Nelson Cruz, whose blast put the Rangers up, 3-2. Cruz drove his 28th homer of the season to right-center off Twins starter Scott Baker, also scoring Ian Kinsler.
"Obviously, I would have made a different pitch if I would have known that would be the result," Baker said. "It happens. I felt like I provided the team with an outing where we had a chance to win, kept the team in it the entire time, and we ended up pulling out a win."
The Twins used a two-run home run of their own to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, when Kubel delivered his 21st long ball of the season. Kubel sent a 3-2 pitch deep to right-center, scoring Morneau, who doubled ahead of Kubel.
Later in the inning, a little bit of a spark -- and a bit of comic relief -- was provided by the 38-year-old Redmond, who legged out his third career triple on a shot to the gap in left-center that rolled all the way to the wall. Redmond hustled around second and made his way safely to third, diving head first before pumping his fist in excitement.
"When he rounded second, I saw that parachute open and I'm going, 'Boy, this ain't going to make it,'" Gardenhire joked. "That wasn't a dive into third. That was a fall."
"I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow," Redmond said. "But that's a good sore."
Nathan again provided an interesting ninth inning, as Texas loaded the bases with no outs. Nathan issued a leadoff walk to Blalock before giving up a single to Cruz.
Ivan Rodriguez then hit a comebacker to the mound, but Nathan's throw to second base was low, allowing Rodriguez to reach and Blalock and Cruz to advance.
"Obviously the [error] is all on me, right back to me," Nathan said. "Pretty much a routine double play for us if I get it over to [Punto]."
The All-Star closer was able to escape the ninth and pick up his 34th save, retiring the next three batters without surrendering a run.
"They haven't come too easy lately," Nathan said. "Bases loaded, no outs. All you can do there is make pitches. You can't worry about how the runners got on base, how many runners are on base."
Newly acquired reliever Jon Rauch (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to earn the victory, his first as a member of the Twins.
Minnesota was unable to gain ground in the standings thanks to Detroit's win Sunday. But the Twins will try to carry the momentum of their win when they welcome in the third-place White Sox for a three-game series starting Monday at the Metrodome.
"Detroit's not losing right now," Gardenhire said. "We've got to win to catch them. We've got to put together streaks. We know that, and we're capable of it."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
TEAM W L % GB
Detroit 69 60 .535 -
Minnesota 65 65 .500 4.5
Chi White Sox 64 67 .489 6.0
Cleveland 58 72 .446 11.5
Kansas City 50 80 .385 19.5
Last 10: 7-3
Saved by roof: Twins within two games-
Minnesota scores five late after ball obscured by dome
By Tyler Mason / MLB.com
09/19/09 10:25 PM ET " MINNEAPOLIS -- There are only four regular-season games remaining for the Twins underneath the Teflon roof of the Metrodome.
But it's plenty of time for the old ballpark to give some reminders of its infamous quirks and perhaps even to provide a few more home-field advantages to the team that has called it home for the past 28 years.
On Saturday afternoon, Minnesota received one more break courtesy of that now dingy, gray-white roof.
With the Twins trailing by a run in the eighth inning, Tigers left fielder Don Kelly lost Orlando Cabrera's sky-high popup in that daylight-lit Teflon to begin a five-run frame that resulted in Minnesota's 6-2 victory over Detroit and that moved it within two games of the American League Central lead.
"We definitely weren't thinking something like that was going to happen," Denard Span said. "But I think this team always knows in this dome, especially with the amount of fans here, we just get a little momentum going and we will break through and make something happen."
Kelly's roof-induced mistake, which came one inning after he entered as a defensive replacement, allowed the Twins to put to go-ahead run in scoring position. After Justin Verlander intentionally walked Joe Mauer to load the bases, Jason Kubel hit a blooper into short left field that fell in front of Kelly, scoring two runs and causing 43,338 fans -- the largest crowd at the Metrodome since Opening Day -- to erupt in raucous applause.
It marked the end of the day for Verlander and spoiled what had been a stellar outing by the Detroit ace, although his finishing line didn't show it.
Right after Kubel's two-run single, Michael Cuddyer cemented the Twins' comeback with a three-homer to deep center field -- his fourth homer in five days -- off reliever Brandon Lyon.
It was Minnesota's sixth straight win -- its longest winning streak of the season -- and moved the club to a season-high four games above .500. And the Twins now have a chance to move within one game of the Tigers if they can win on Sunday.
"We wish we would have played like this more of the season, but better late than never," Cuddyer said. "We've still got a chance. We've given ourselves a chance. Hopefully we can play like this the next 14 games."
The Twins had constantly reminded themselves in recent weeks of the seven games they had remaining with the Tigers. And having taken the first two of those seven, the club has made this truly a division race now, and they seem to be feeling better about their chances in it.
"We know that we're not done yet," Cabrera said. "It's a long way to go, but we're playing with a lot of intensity, which is important. We're playing every pitch as hard as we can and playing smart baseball. We have to keep the intensity going."
Minnesota certainly showed that intensity in the eighth inning, when with a little help from the roof, it rallied against Verlander. For most of the day, Verlander had showed why he's considered among the best in AL.
Having allowed just one run before that fateful eighth inning, Verlander was still hitting the high 90s on the radar gun when he was near the end of his 128-pitch outing.
"The guy is a stud," Cuddyer said. "That's what studs do, go back out there in the eighth with 100-and-some pitches, and he says, 'Either I'm going to win it or I'm going to lose it.' You've got to respect a guy like that, to be able to go out and dominate. The line didn't look like it at the end when it was all said and done, but he dominated today."
Pavano, who entered the game 4-0 with a 1.48 in four starts vs. Detroit, gave up 11 hits over his first five innings but found a way to work his way out of jams. That included inducing an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth.
"I don't think I've been particularly dominant against them," Pavano said. "I've just made pitches when I needed to, and that's the name of our job as a starting pitcher."
"It's more frustrating with two runs on 11 hits," added Tigers catcher Gerald Laird. "I had a double play with the bases loaded. We just couldn't get that one hit to break the game open."
The Twins have found ways to defeat their opponents during their recent winning streak, and while it's not always pretty, they seem ready to take wins whatever way they come.
That even means taking victories when the roof provides them with a gift, like it did on Saturday.
"That was huge, you could say that was probably the play of the game," Cuddyer said of Cabera's "dome" double in the eighth. "We only have four more regular-season games [here], and I guess we took advantage today."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
" MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins opened their final regular-season series at the Metrodome on Friday night, but the hope is that it won't mark the last stretch of baseball that will be played under the Dome's teflon roof.
For that to happen, it would require the Twins to do one of two things: force a one-game tiebreaker for the division title or find a way to pull off the remarkable and win the division outright.
But first the mission was just to find a way to cut their deficit in the American League Central to one game with two left to play. To do that, the Twins knew that they'd not only need a win over the Royals but also a little help from the White Sox in Detroit.
They got both.
A packed crowd of 40,223 at the Metrodome on Friday night cheered at approximately 8:30 p.m. CT when Chicago's 8-0 win over the Tigers was posted on the out-of-town scoreboard. But that win only meant something because the Twins were able to stave off a late charge to defeat the Royals, 10-7.
A few tense moments were had, to be sure. The Twins watched a 10-run lead whittled away before turning to closer Joe Nathan, who protected a three-run lead in the ninth for his club-record 46th save of the season. Yet the Twins were just focused on this fact -- that their deficit in the division is now just one game.
"The bottom line and all that really matters is we won the ballgame and we gained a game on the other guys over there because they lost a ballgame," Gardenhire said. "That's all really in the big picture that matters. Now we've got to find a way to come out tomorrow in an afternoon ballgame and do it again."
Every contest now is a virtual must-win for the Twins, and as they've captured 14 wins in their past 18 contests, they've found different players to step up in key situations.
On Friday night, it was rookie Jeff Manship, who delivered his first Major League win, and Delmon Young, who produced his first career grand slam early in the contest, to help the Twins catapult out to a robust lead through four innings.
Five of those runs came off Royals starter Lenny DiNardo in the first inning. Jason Kubel had an RBI single before Young stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Young ripped a 1-0 pitch from the left-handed DiNardo to left-center for his 10th homer of the season.
A sore knee from Thursday's beanball incident with the Tigers didn't seem to slow down Young, who has batted .337 since the start of September. He went 2-for-4 in the contest and tied his single-game career high with five RBIs.
"Hopefully it's the last one in Metrodome history," Young said. "I think we're all trying to get the last homer in Metrodome history, too. Hopefully we'll get a couple tomorrow."
The crowd was certainly appreciative of Young's efforts, giving him a curtain call following the grand slam and cheering loudly once again when he came to the plate with the bases loaded the next inning.
Young wasn't the only one to earn a huge ovation, as Manship was serenaded with one when he walked off the mound following his career-high 5 1/3-inning outing. The right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits to earn his first win.
"It's an unbelievable feeling right now," Manship said. "I can't really express it. It's awesome."
The bullpen, however, would make things a little tenuous. Jesse Crain gave up one run to snap his scoreless-innings streak at 17, and Bobby Keppel gave up two more. Jose Mijares hit a batter and gave up a single to put the tying run on base with one out in the eighth, creating a heart-pumping moment for fans before Matt Guerrier came in and got the club out of the jam.
"It was just good that we didn't fold up," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "In this situation, with three games left and everything they've got on the line, especially with the excitement of the crowd seeing the Detroit final, it would've been real easy for these guys to just shut down, and they didn't."
Not that Kansas City's tenacity surprised Gardenhire. The manager said he couldn't help but think of how the Royals had come back from early deficits before, and he was trying every way he could to think of how to stop them.
Because on this night, the Twins couldn't afford to see their 10-run lead erased. Not when their postseason hopes had already gotten a boost from the White Sox and when they had a chance to ensure at least a few more memorable and meaningful moments inside this Dome.
Of course, not all things will be easy. The Twins need to keep getting help from the White Sox, as well as to keep producing wins of their own. Saturday provides a formidable task in the form of Royals ace and AL Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke, who picked up his 16th win last Sunday against Minnesota.
"It's a good thing that we did face him, so know what to expect," said Kubel. "Hopefully we'll have better results this time." "
" MINNEAPOLIS -- Nick Punto could barely speak. His voice was just a hoarse whisper from all the screaming he did on Saturday afternoon, trying to will his team to a win that would keep its postseason hopes alive.
Punto was likely not the only one whose voice took a beating. Many of the 48,644 at the Metrodome probably felt the same following the Twins' thrilling 5-4 victory over the Royals that pulled them within a half-game of the American League Central lead -- at least momentarily.
"It's felt like Game 7 for the last two weeks," Punto whispered, describing the run the Twins have been on to keep themselves in playoff contention.
And thanks to yet another boost from Michael Cuddyer, there will be at least one more "Game 7" for the Twins in the regular season.
In the second-to-last game at the Metrodome, the Twins saw their chances of prolonging baseball under the Teflon roof nearly disappear after watching a four-run lead built off Royals ace Zack Greinke erased. But Cuddyer's eighth-inning home run broke a 4-4 tie and left the Twins knowing that the final regular-season contest under the dome would be meaningful.
"I can't imagine having a bigger, more exciting victory than that one," said starter Nick Blackburn. "That just does so much for this team right now. To get a Cy Young contender ... This guy is having a unbelievable season, and to put up four runs on him, I'm at a loss for words. That was impressive."
The Twins' win ensured that they would be no farther behind than one game heading into the final contest of the regular season.
"This is fun," Cuddyer said. "This is what it's all about. When you break Spring Training, you hope to experience this. All 162 games are going to count. You can't go wrong with that."
The Twins had faced the possibility of seeing their postseason hopes come to an end on Saturday night if they couldn't find a way to defeat the Royals with Greinke -- the AL Cy Young favorite -- on the mound.
Facing this unenviable task, the Twins joked before the contest that perhaps their best chance was to pray for runs early to avoid giving Kansas City's ace any sort of lead. Thanks to Blackburn, they didn't have to worry about it.
Pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his Major League career, Blackburn thrived, as he and Greinke were locked in a duel for the first five innings. The game was scoreless through that span, with each pitcher allowing just two hits.
But in the sixth, it was Greinke who faltered first, as the Twins tagged him for four runs. Punto fought through a seven-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk. Two outs later, with Punto standing at third, the crowd was provided a memorable showdown between Greinke and AL MVP candidate Joe Mauer. The catcher won the battle, fighting back from an 0-2 count to line the fifth pitch of the at-bat -- a 96-mph fastball -- into right field for an RBI single and a 1-0 Twins lead.
"[He's] probably the best pitcher we've faced on the mound this year," Mauer said. "Two outs, and I think that's kind of what everybody wanted to see. I was glad. That's the position you want to be in as a player, even if it is a tough spot. That's what you play the game for."
Jason Kubel's ground-rule double to left field followed Mauer's single, then Greinke hit Cuddyer with a pitch to load the bases for Delmon Young, who the night before had hit the first grand slam of his career. The outfielder continued his hot streak, drilling a bases-clearing double into right-center field to give Minnesota a four-run lead.
Greinke was done after the four-run inning, leaving with his ERA at 2.16, still good enough for the Major League lead.
"They elevate their game when the pressure's on the line," Greinke said. "Most teams either stay the same or get tight and try to do more than they can do. Delmon Young, perfect example. I threw a high fastball to him, hoping he'd try to get big and hit a home run with it, and he stayed through it and hit it [to the] opposite field. It just shows how relaxed they stay in pressure situations."
But the Royals weren't done, as they came back to tie it in the eighth off the Twins' bullpen.
Holding that four-run lead to start the seventh, Blackburn gave up a one-out solo home run to Mike Jacobs. He gave up a leadoff double to start the eighth before left-hander Jose Mijares relieved him. Mijares gave up a two-run homer to Alex Gordon, then a single to Brayan Pena before the tying run scored when Mitch Maier hit into a double play off right-hander Jon Rauch, knotting the score at 4. The buzz of the crowd seemed to taper slightly.
"We gave up a lead. It looked like we had our situation set up, and it didn't work out," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But nothing amazes me anymore. I take that back. This team amazes me because of the courage they're showing."
Perhaps no one has been more tenacious of late than Cuddyer, who has delivered a huge boost to the lineup since former AL MVP Justin Morneau went down to injury on Sept. 12. Cuddyer moved from right field to first base to fill in for Morneau and has responded by hitting .342 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 19 games there.
That included Cuddyer's eighth-inning homer on Saturday -- his 31st of the year -- which gave the Twins the one-run advantage and earned him the second curtain call in as many days.
The Twins then turned to closer Joe Nathan for the ninth, and with the help of a tremendous sliding catch by Denard Span in right field, Nathan closed out the win with his 47th save of the season.
For the Twins, it was their 15th win in their past 19 contests. As recently as Sept. 6, they sat seven games back of the division lead.
"What we've done and the run that we've had up to this point has been pretty special, pretty fun to watch if you've been following us the whole way," Gardenhire said. "It's pretty fun. These guys just have huge hearts out there. A lot of courage."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
Minnesota 5, Kansas City 4 MIN "Hours after Michael Cuddyer's solo homer gave the Twins a victory over the Royals, the Tigers' loss to the White Sox gave Minnesota a share of the AL Central lead heading into the season's final day."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 4 7 0
0 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 X 5 8 0
Standings thru 10/3/09 | Gameday | Royals stats | Twins stats
a-Singled for Hernandez, Lu in the 8th.
1-Ran for Pena, B in the 8th.
2B: Olivo (15, Blackburn).
HR: Jacobs (19, 7th inning off Blackburn, 0 on, 1 out), Gordon, A (5, 8th inning off Mijares, Jo, 1 on, 0 out).
TB: Bloomquist; Jacobs 5; Callaspo; Olivo 2; Gordon, A 4; Pena, B.
RBI: Jacobs (61), Gordon, A 2 (21).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Gordon, A 2.
Team RISP: 1-for-4.
Team LOB: 2.
" MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second straight year, the Twins will play in a one-game tiebreaker for the American League Central.
Jason Kubel and Delmon Young each delivered two home runs to lift the Twins to a 13-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon before a sold-out crowd of 51,155 in what was to be the Metrodome's regular-season finale.
Entering the day tied with Detroit atop the division, the Twins needed a victory to ensure a chance at the division title after the Tigers snapped their three-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over the White Sox. The teams will meet on Tuesday at the Metrodome for the one-game tiebreaker.
Kubel delivered six RBIs on the day, as he hit a pair of three-run homers. His first came in the opening frame, drilling an 0-1 fastball from Royals starter Luke Hochevar to the upper deck in right field to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Young followed with a two-out solo shot to left field, putting the Twins up, 4-0, after one inning.
In the third, Kubel added his second three-run blast of the game, this one to the opposite field. He belted the first pitch to left field for his 27th home run of the season. It marked his fifth career two-homer game and the third of the year. Young then belted his second of the contest in the fifth on yet another solo shot to left for an 8-1 Twins lead.
It was the first time the Twins have had two players hit two home runs in the same game since July 12, 2001, vs. Milwaukee. In that contest, Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter all hit two homers.
The huge lead would be needed, as the Royals would strike in the middle innings for the second time in two games. Twins starter Carl Pavano gave up four runs on eight hits through 5 2/3 innings. Most of the trouble came in the sixth, as Pavano allowed three of the runs in the inning before turning it over to the bullpen.
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, getting him to strike out looking to get the club out of the inning unscathed.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner
Tigers, Twins to go beyond on Tuesday-
AL Central foes to decide division title in one-game tiebreaker<, By Mark Newman / MLB.com
10/04/09 4:35 PM ETbr>
" Beyond 162.
For the third consecutive year -- the longest such streak in MLB history -- the regular season will go beyond the limit and require a playoff tiebreaker to finalize the postseason field.
Detroit and Minnesota each won in their 162nd games on Sunday, leading to a one-game tiebreaker Tuesday at the Metrodome to decide the American League Central champion.
The Twins become the first club ever to play such a tiebreaker in consecutive years, having lost the AL Central tiebreaker against the White Sox in 2008. The Rockies beat the Padres for the 2007 National League Wild Card to start this now-expected extension.
Tuesday's winner will play Game 1 of the AL Division Series either Wednesday or Thursday at Yankee Stadium, and the Red Sox will be at the Angels in the other ALDS. The NL Division Series are all set, with Rockies at Phillies and Cardinals at Dodgers, both on Wednesday.
Somehow you just knew that in this season of such little day-to-day turnover atop the standings, there would still be a mad rush of suspenseful drama. Here we are again.
Alex Rodriguez even stepped in to be a big part of the story, as he was when the season began, but this time he spoke with his bat, driving in an astounding seven runs in one inning on a three-run homer and grand slam.
It also was as if A-Rod reminded the Tigers and Twins pitchers about what could lie ahead for the tiebreaker survivor in the days to come. Remember in 2006, when the Tigers came in as underdogs against the mighty Yankees, only to see Rodriguez dropped far down the batting order amid a slump, and the Bronx Bombers dropped the series?
Justin Verlander, now unquestionably a real AL Cy Young candidate (no one in baseball has more wins or strikeouts), finished the regular season at 19-9 by beating the White Sox in No. 162 at Comerica Park. It came before a giddy crowd that hopes for the city's first World Series title in a quarter-century.
The Twins built a quick 7-0 lead against the Royals on what everyone in attendance knew could be the final day of baseball in the history of the Metrodome. Their team moves into outdoor Target Field next spring. As the game progressed, it became official that the Tigers had won and that the locals had to hold up their end in order to meet in a tiebreaker. Minnesota withstood a Royals rally and did just that, and can now wonder whether there will be a third and final World Series in that facility.
The tiebreaker will be in Minnesota because the Twins won the season series between the clubs. That is especially worth noting, because in the past it would have been a coin flip that decided where this game would be played. The rules were changed this year, so head-to-head decided it. In other words, it came down to what happened on the field instead of the pure chance of a coin falling on either side.
Detroit is trying desperately to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first team in history to be in first place on May 10 or earlier and remain on top until losing the title in the final week of the season.
becoming the first team to be in first place on May 10 and stay atop a division until losing the title in the last week A couple of right-handers will be the probable starting pitchers for the tiebreaker: Rookie Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.04 ERA) for the Tigers, and Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36) for the Twins. Two of Porcello's last three outings were against Minnesota, one a loss and one a no-decision, but both were quality starts. Baker tossed five solid innings, allowing no earned runs, to beat the Tigers on Thursday.
The only other time tiebreakers happened in consecutive years was 1998-99 -- and obviously the chances of it happening at all are greater in the Wild Card era. The Cubs eliminated the Giants at Wrigley Field for the 1998 NL Wild Card, and a year later the Mets won at Cincinnati to secure the same berth. The Yankees were the last to win a playoff tiebreaker and then win a World Series, thanks to Bucky Dent's unexpected homer at Fenway Park in 1978.
There is some bittersweet and mixed emotion on this final Sunday, because for many it is time to say goodbye to the heroes of our summer. Goodbye to Jonathan Sanchez, who threw that stunning no-hitter right before the All-Star Game, and goodbye to Adrian Gonzalez and that marvelous 40-homer season for the Padres. They met again on the final day of the season, and watching them you could not help but think about what a long haul this is and how good you must be to advance.
Goodbye to Felix Hernandez of the Mariners and Scott Feldman of the Rangers, who pitched against each other in a final Sunday showcase of brilliant future stars. Their future already arrived this year. Hernandez was aiming for his 19th win and Feldman his 18th.
Goodbye to Ichiro, who amazed us again, becoming the first player to collect at least 200 hits in nine consecutive seasons. Goodbye to Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins, his wondrous year finished with an NL batting title at .342. Goodbye to Mark Buehrle and that perfect game. Goodbye to 21 clubs for a winter ahead, and you will be joined soon by either Detroit or Minnesota in the offseason ranks.
Those seasons will become memories now. For eight clubs, the game will go on. For someone like Joe Nathan, the Twins' new single-season saves leader, a tiebreaker means your statistics don't stop yet, either. Tiebreakers count in the regular season stats.
In the coming days and weeks, it will be time for postseason magic, including the 105th World Series. Along the way, you will be constantly reminded that this is Beyond Baseball -- because it is.
Right now, it is Beyond 162.
The regular season goes on -- again.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
East | Central | West | Wild Card
Team W L PCT GB wc▲ dc▲ po▲
Detroit 86 76 .531 - N
Minnesota 86 76 .531 - N
Chi White Sox 79 83 .488 7.0 N
Cleveland 65 97 .401 21.0 N
Kansas City 65 97 .401 21.0
" MINNEAPOLIS -- Over the past three weeks during their miraculous run, the Twins have found ways to grind out victories, and it came as no surprise that's exactly what they did in Tuesday night's one-game tiebreaker against the Tigers for the American League Central title.
Alexi Casilla became the most unlikely of heroes for the Twins, delivering a walk-off RBI single in the 12th inning to lift the Twins to a 6-5 victory that gave the club its fifth division title this decade and earned Minnesota a trip to New York to face the Yankees in the AL Division Series. Minnesota is the first team to come back from three games down with four to play.
A pinch-runner for Brendan Harris in the 10th inning, Casilla delivered the hit in his lone at-bat of the game against Tigers closer Fernando Rodney. After intentionally walking Delmon Young to put runners at first and second, Casilla laced a ball into right field -- allowing Carlos Gomez to score from second base and giving the Twins a win in one of the most memorable regular-season games in history.
The Homer Hankies were waving and the home crowd was raucous, as 54,088 fans -- the largest regular-season crowd in Metrodome history -- turned out for what would be the Twins' final regular-season contest under the Dome's Teflon roof.
It would be one to remember. The Twins overcame a 3-0 deficit, thanks to Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the seventh that gave them a 4-3 lead, only to have the contest tied at 4 in the eighth inning on a Magglio Ordonez leadoff homer.
Still knotted at 4 heading into the ninth, the Tigers appeared like they would take a lead after putting runners on first and third with no outs against Joe Nathan. But Nathan froze Placido Polanco on a called third strike and then got Ordonez to line into an inning-ending double play, as Cabrera made the throw to first base to catch Curtis Granderson off the bag.
Nick Punto drew a 10-pitch walk to lead off the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Cabrera grounded out, thanks to a diving stop by third baseman Brandon Inge. Rodney then intentionally walked Joe Mauer to get to Gomez, who entered the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement for Jason Kubel, and Gomez grounded out.
The clubs exchanged runs in the 10th inning. Jesse Crain struck Aubrey Huff with a pitch, and Inge hit an RBI double to put Detroit up a run, 5-4. But Michael Cuddyer tripled to lead off the bottom of the frame and scored on Matt Tolbert's single up the middle to knot the contest again. The Twins had the winning run on third with one out, but Punto flied out to left field and Casilla was thrown out at home as he tried to slide around catcher Gerald Laird's tag.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
Baker, S pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.
Mijares, Jo pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.
IBB: Mauer (by Rodney), Young, D (by Rodney), Raburn (by Keppel).
HBP: Harris, B (by Miner), Huff, A (by Crain).
Pitches-strikes: Porcello 92-59, Miner 23-15, Ni 4-3, Lyon 26-18, Rodney 48-28, Baker, S 91-59, Rauch 4-3, Mijares, Jo 7-4, Guerrier 22-11, Nathan 21-14, Crain 16-12, Mahay 4-3, Keppel 33-17.
Groundouts-flyouts: Porcello 4-5, Miner 0-1, Ni 0-1, Lyon 4-0, Rodney 5-2, Baker, S 5-11, Rauch 0-2, Mijares, Jo 0-0, Guerrier 2-0, Nathan 0-2, Crain 2-0, Mahay 0-0, Keppel 1-2.
Batters faced: Porcello 23, Miner 7, Ni 1, Lyon 6, Rodney 15, Baker, S 25, Rauch 2, Mijares, Jo 1, Guerrier 5, Nathan 6, Crain 6, Mahay 1, Keppel 7.
Inherited runners-scored: Miner 1-0, Ni 1-0, Lyon 1-0, Rodney 1-0, Rauch 1-0, Mijares, Jo 1-0, Guerrier 2-0, Nathan 2-0.
Umpires: HP: Randy Marsh. 1B: Dale Scott. 2B: Jerry Layne. 3B: Gary Cederstrom. LF: Fieldin Culbreth. RF: Bruce Dreckman.
Weather: 68 degrees, dome.
October 6, 2009
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner
Some Key Plays:
10.06.09: Orlando Cabrera puts a first-pitch slider into the left-field seats with a man on to give the Twins a one-run lead in the seventh
10.06.09: Matt Tolbert chops a grounder up the middle and into center, and Michael Cuddyer scores from third to tie it at 5 in the 10th
10.06.09: Nick Punto makes the heads-up play on a grounder to second, firing home for out No. 2, which keeps the game tied at 5 in the 12th
10.06.09: Alexi Casilla's hit to right scores Carlos Gomez as the Twins walk off to a 12th-inning win at the Dome that seals a playoff spot
Minnesota Twins Game 10-6-09
"The last play of the Minnesota Twins tie-breaker ballgame on October 6, 2009. The Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 to win the Central Division Championship. In this final play Alexi Casilla's hit to right scores Carlos Gomez as the Twins walk off to a 12th-inning win at the Dome that seals a playoff spot with the Yankees. "
Tigers vs. Twins 10/6/09 Highlights
"The metrodome lives to see one more Twins series as they escape a thriller against the Tigers who once held a 7 game lead at the beggining of September Courtesy of ESPN.com "
Player TEAM POS G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG
1. O Cabrera
MIN SS 160 656 83 186 36 3 9 77 255 36 71 13 4 .316 .389 .284
2. M Cuddyer
MIN OF 153 588 93 162 34 7 32 94 306 54 118 6 1 .342 .520 .276
3. D Span
MIN OF 145 578 97 180 16 10 8 68 240 70 89 23 10 .392 .415 .311
4. J Mauer
MIN C 138 523 94 191 30 1 28 96 307 76 63 4 1 .444 .587 .365
5. J Kubel
MIN DH 146 514 73 154 35 2 28 103 277 56 106 1 1 .369 .539 .300
6. J Morneau
MIN 1B 135 508 85 139 31 1 30 100 262 72 86 0 0 .363 .516 .274
7. B Harris
MIN SS 123 414 44 108 22 1 6 37 150 29 78 0 2 .310 .362 .261
8. D Young
MIN OF 108 395 50 112 16 2 12 60 168 12 92 2 5 .308 .425 .284
9. N Punto
MIN 2B 125 359 56 82 15 1 1 38 102 61 70 16 3 .337 .284 .228
10. J Crede
MIN 3B 90 333 42 75 16 1 15 48 138 29 56 0 0 .289 .414 .225
11. C Gomez
MIN OF 137 315 51 72 15 5 3 28 106 22 72 14 7 .287 .337 .229
12. A Casilla
MIN 2B 80 228 25 46 7 3 0 17 59 22 36 11 0 .280 .259 .202
13. M Tolbert
MIN 2B 71 198 28 46 7 1 2 19 61 21 37 6 2 .303 .308 .232
14. B Buscher
MIN 3B 61 136 14 32 3 1 2 12 43 24 35 0 0 .360 .316 .235
15. M Redmond
MIN C 45 135 9 32 5 1 0 7 39 11 19 0 0 .299 .289 .237
16. J Morales
MIN C 54 119 14 37 6 0 0 7 43 14 22 0 0 .381 .361 .311
Player TEAM W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV SVO IP H R ER HR HBP BB SO
"MINNEAPOLIS -- A somewhat tired-looking Joe Mauer stood in the back of an empty Twins clubhouse Saturday morning at the Metrodome and answered questions from the media about the club's present playoff predicament.
There were quite a few "backs against the wall" and "must-win games" thrown out to the American League batting champion -- understandable with the Twins down, 0-2, to the Yankees in the best-of-five American League Division Series. But when the topics became more specific, the questions naturally gravitated to the blown call by left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi in the top of the 11th inning of Friday night's 4-3 loss to New York at Yankee Stadium.
For better or for worse, that play is now ingrained in the minds of Twins fans from St. Paul to Edina.
Mauer led off the 11th against Damaso Marte with a twisting fly ball toward the left-field corner that clearly landed fair, and on replay, even appeared to brush the edge of Melky Cabrera's glove in fair ground. The drive was immediately ruled foul by Cuzzi, and the rest, as they say, is history. That is the unwanted sort of history for the Twins, in the midst of an 0-9 funk against the Yankees this season.
Sure, Mauer followed with a single and Minnesota actually loaded the bases with no outs in the 11th, but the AL Central champs didn't score. It would be easy for the Twins to blame the call, in part, for the loss that put them in a deep hole against the best team, record-wise, in Major League Baseball.
To the Twins' credit, the play seemed to be pretty much filed away during their flight home to Minneapolis.
"I guess it really doesn't matter now," said Mauer with a smile. "Umpires are human, too. They will make mistakes just like we do. But you can't focus on that and say, 'That was the game right there.' We had our chances to win, and we just weren't able to do it."
"It's a shame, but those things happen," Minnesota second baseman Nick Punto said. "That's part of the game. Umpires miss calls. We had plenty of opportunities to win that game. It just didn't work out."
Both Punto and Mauer speak the truth. Yes, the call on Mauer's fly ball was shown to be wrong -- admitted as such by crew chief Tim Tschida -- and it might have led to a run. But as Mauer pointed out postgame, by being on first base, it opened up a hole between first and second for Jason Kubel's single. That opening might not have been there if Mauer were on second.
Ultimately, Friday's outcome came down to what the Twins didn't do, as opposed to what Cuzzi should have done.
Minnesota didn't hit with runners in scoring position. The 17 men left on base marked the most for the Twins in any sort of competition since April 6, 2004, against Cleveland, when they stranded 19.
Yankees starter A.J Burnett walked five, yielded three hits and hit two over six innings, providing Minnesota with ample scoring opportunities. Even in the 11th, after the Cuzzi call, the Twins didn't exactly execute patience against David Robertson, New York's final reliever, with Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez swinging at first pitches and making outs that stranded the trio of runners.
Then there was Gomez's baserunning gaffe in the fourth inning. The fleet-footed outfielder slipped as he tried to stop himself while rounding second on Matt Tolbert's single to right, and instead of getting into a rundown, Gomez tried to dive back into second. Nick Swisher's throw to Derek Jeter nailed Gomez for the third out, a couple of strides before Young could score from second.
Blaming Cuzzi or the umpiring crew in general would be a bit shortsighted, considering the Twins could have won this game in nine innings. After all, they benefited from a missed hit batsman call on Brandon Inge in the top of 12th inning of Tuesday night's AL Central tiebreaker that would have given Detroit the lead in a game won by Minnesota in bottom of the frame.
"Breaks are part of it, and it went against us this time," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We made enough mistakes, and we missed opportunities to win the game ourselves."
Then again, Minnesota, as a team and as a state, still was a bit shocked by what transpired.
"That's why they have an umpire out there, for that call," Minnesota third baseman Brendan Harris said. "It's unfortunate that he missed it.
"Pitchers up in the clubhouse came back and were like, 'What is going on?' It was like in football -- they kind of ran a play before they could look at it and got back on the mound. You've got the outfield guy, you've got the third-base guy and you've got the ump at home plate.
"Somebody probably would have seen inside the line. There's only a foot of foul territory anyway. For the ball to hit [Cabrera] and be foul, he would have had to have been already hitting the wall instead of two steps and then hitting the wall."
If the Twins are eliminated Sunday or Monday -- or even in a Game 5 on Wednesday -- they won't point fingers at the umpires. In fact, Mauer hadn't even watched the replay as of Saturday, although he admitted to having interest in taking a look.
"But it's not going to change it. I saw a picture in the paper today, but what can you do," Mauer said. "Off the bat, I thought it was going to be fair. I rounded first, he called it foul and I didn't really think anything of it. So it is what it is. We are down 2-0 and have to get this one tomorrow."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs."
"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) ―
After so many October misses, Alex Rodriguez delivered the playoff performance his talent demanded.
Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit seventh-inning home runs to spoil Carl Pavano's opportunity to frustrate New Yorkers one more time, and the Yankees advanced to their first AL championship series in five years with a 4-1 victory and sweep of Minnesota on Sunday night.
Mariano Rivera closed out Game 3 -- the last baseball game at the Metrodome -- to preserve Andy Pettitte's record-tying 15th career postseason win.
Game 1 of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels will be at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. The teams were 5-5 against each this season. The Angels swept Boston earlier in the day.
"It's exciting," Rodriguez said. "We were very disappointed last year when we went home, and ownership got us some good players. We came out and played like a team, like a group of brothers."
This pitching duel between former teammates Pettitte and Pavano ended with another first-round playoff victory in Minnesota for the Yankees, who also eliminated the Twins here in 2003 and 2004.
"I was trying to match zeros with him," Pettitte said.
For all their success this decade by being so good at the basics, the Twins made glaring gaffes at the worst times -- against the team that led the majors with 103 wins, they were doomed.
The Yankees aren't about to let an opponent get away with overrunning the bases, as Carlos Gomez did in Game 2 to cost the Twins a run. Nick Punto then wasted his leadoff double in the eighth by failing to see that Denard Span's single didn't get past shortstop Derek Jeter, and he was thrown out trying to retreat to third base.
Pavano's renaissance was upstaged by Rodriguez, who's starting to make up for all those past postseasonr failures, and Posada, who proved he wasn't too proud to publicly wish he started Game 2.
Rodriguez went 5 for 11 with two homers and six RBIs in these three games. Posada complained about being benched for Jose Molina with A.J. Burnett on the mound on Friday.
Posada gave Rivera more room with an RBI single in a two-run ninth against the Minnesota bullpen, as the crowd began to file out of the Dome for the final time.
Pettitte retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced and left Joba Chamberlain a 2-1 lead and one out in the seventh.
Pettitte matched John Smoltz for career postseason victories. Pettitte's previous such win came back in the 2003 World Series against Pavano's Florida Marlins, who won it all that year.
The Yankees haven't experienced that euphoria since 2000, the Pettitte-Posada battery, closer Rivera and captain Jeter the only pieces left from that squad.
Rivera, a 10-time All-Star, came in to get Joe Mauer on a bat-shattering groundout to end the eighth after the Twins blew their chance to score against Phil Hughes thanks to Punto's blunder. Manager Ron Gardenhire had his hands to his head in exasperation, and Orlando Cabrera followed with a fly out to center field that could've got the run in.
Rivera then closed out the ninth for save.
The Twins left 26 runners on base over the first two games, including 17 in the 11-inning defeat in Game 2, failing to get those big hits. The Twins enjoyed a power surge during the regular season, but they didn't go deep at all in this series. The AL East champion Yankees hit six homers.
Pavano couldn't have started stronger against the team that couldn't wait to get rid of him after four forgettable seasons in pinstripes. He struck out four during the first trip through baseball's best lineup -- the Yankees led the majors in runs, home runs and on-base percentage during the regular season -- and the only hit he gave up in the first four innings didn't make it out of the infield.
Effectively spotting his changeup and sinker, Pavano completed seven innings with a season-high nine strikeouts and no walks. That was more than half of his total with the Yankees all of last year, the last of his injury-filled seasons with them.
The last professional baseball game under this billowing roof was supposed to be a week ago. After beating Detroit in an AL Central tiebreaker on Tuesday night, here the Twins were, playing in front of another packed stadium.
They made every game down the stretch count for more than just a last-chance-to-see-the-Metrodome memory, catching Detroit with 17 wins in their last 21 games including that epic tiebreaker game for the division title on Tuesday.
Ah, but these Yankees aren't the same as the Tigers or the White Sox or the Royals, as the Twins were painfully reminded during the first two games in New York -- and again on Sunday.
Mauer's two-out single justified the "MVP!" chants, gave the Twins their first lead at home over the Yankees in four games this year, and made it three straight runners on against Pettitte in the bottom of the sixth.
The 37-year-old left-hander, who became the all-time major league leader in postseason innings pitched, snapped back to strike out Michael Cuddyer on a high fastball. Pettitte pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout.
Then Pavano's performance was quickly blemished by the big opposite field homers by Rodriguez and Posada. Rodriguez had fallen behind 0-and-2 before working the count full. Just like that, the Yankees were back in front.
NOTES: Pavano's nine strikeouts marked a Twins record for a postseason game. Not even Jack Morris had that many in those 10 shutout innings of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Morris struck out eight. ... After his rare unassisted double play in field, Cuddyer was thrown out on an even rarer 9-6 fielder's choice. The low liner skipped past Cano at second base so fast Nick Swisher was able to field it in right and throw for the force out. ... Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who has been on the staff since 1981, threw out the honorary first pitch. ... The Yankees are 51-1 this season when limiting their opponent to two runs or less."
"At the beginning of September, the Minnesota Twins stood 7 games behind the first place Detroit Tigers, and their chances of making the playoffs appeared to be slim. Things didn't look any better when, with 4 games left in the regular season, they were 3 games back behind the Tigers. However, the Twins kept battling and battling, eventually winning the AL Central in a one-game playoff before losing to the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series.
The best player for the Minnesota Twins, and perhaps the best player in the entire American League, is catcher Joe Mauer. Just entering his prime, Mauer put up one of the best offensive seasons for a catcher in the history of the game. As always, he hit for a great average (he collected his third batting title), and drew a lot of walks, which allowed him to lead the league in OBP for the first time. This year, he also matured into a more powerful stroke, surprisingly leading the American League in SLG, finishing with 28 HR. He is also great behind the plate and could win his second straight Gold Glove Award. He should be the MVP of the American League, and he just might be the best player in all of baseball.
The Twins had a lot of solid hitters at the plate. Denard Span was a great leadoff man, hitting for a good average and patience and providing speed at the top of the lineup. Justin Morneau is one of the best power hitters in the game and great protection for Mauer in the lineup. Michael Cuddyer had a great year (hitting for 32 HR) and finally provided the Twins with a consistent power threat from the right side of the plate. At DH and OF, Jason Kubel finally had a true breakout year that many have been expecting from him, as he hit 28 HR and batted .300. The Twins had a lot of dangerous hitters in the middle of the lineup.
The pitching, however, was very inconsistent. They had a lot of youth and a lot of injury problems, leading to many struggles throughout the season. Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker were the workhorses of the staff, each pitching 200+ innings. Francisco Liriano was expected to have a big year, but he showed that he is simply not the pitcher he was before Tommy John surgery, finishing with an ERA near 6. Brian Duensing was solid, but it is uncertain how he projects long-term. The bullpen performed well, especially guys like Joe Nathan at the backend, and then Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, and Jon Rauch.
So the Minnesota Twins are a team that always seems to be the hunt, as they will scratch and claw and get everything they can out of their talent. Once again, it wasn't always pretty, but they finished the 2009 season with an 87-76 record, adding another American League Central title to their resumes in the final season of player in the Metrodome."
"Minnesota Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who tied for the Major League lead with four home runs last week, has been named the American League Player of the Week presented by Bank of America for the period ending September 20th. Bank of America is the Official Bank of Major League Baseball and the only place where you can get your favorite Club logo on checks, check cards or credit cards. For more information on MLB® banking, visit bankofamerica.com/MLB. In six key divisional games, Michael hit .292 (7-24) with two doubles, five runs scored, 11 RBI and an .875 slugging percentage while collecting four multi-RBI games. On September 14th, the right-handed slugger hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to tie the game at three, the highlight of a six-run eighth in a 6-3 comeback win over the Cleveland Indians at the Metrodome. The 100th career homer milestone marked Cuddyer's 25th of the season, surpassing his previous career-high of 24 (2006). In a critical September 19th among the A.L. Central leaders, Michael's three-run blast catapulted the Twins to a 6-2 win over the first-place Detroit Tigers, extending Minnesota's season-high winning streak to six games and marking his third consecutive game with a homer, the first time he has achieved that feat in his career. The 30-year-old Virginia native, who was the ninth overall choice in the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, is currently hitting .272 with 33 doubles, 83 RBI, 81 runs scored and career highs with 28 home runs and six triples. This marks the first career weekly award for the versatile Cuddyer, who has been playing first base of late in the absence of injured All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau. Other noteworthy performances included Cuddyer's teammate Joe Mauer, who posted an A.L.-best .556 batting average and a Major League-best .667 on-base percentage. Also considered were New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who tied for the Major League lead with 13 hits, and a pair of backstops, Baltimore Orioles rookie Matt Wieters, who hit two homers with 10 RBI, and Kansas City Royals veteran Miguel Olivo, who led the Majors with 13 RBI and a 1.176 slugging percentage. Tourneau, the world's largest watch store, will supply Michael Cuddyer with a luxury Swiss Tourneau timepiece, suitably engraved, in recognition of his achievement as the A.L. Player of the Week presented by Bank of America. "
"NEW YORK -- Joe Mauer became only the second catcher in 33 years to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award, finishing first in a near-unanimous vote Monday.
The Minnesota Twins star received 27 of 28 first-place votes and 387 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
New York Yankees teammates Mark Teixeira (225 points) and Derek Jeter (193) followed. The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera drew the other first-place vote and was fourth with 171 points, one point ahead of the Los Angeles Angels' Kendry Morales.
Mauer became the second Twins player to win in four years, following Justin Morneau in 2006. Morneau gave Mauer a bottle of champagne Monday at the Metrodome.
"Hopefully we can pop that open here a little later," Mauer said.
Mauer set a major league record for highest batting average by a catcher and won his third batting title, becoming the first repeat batting champion since Nomar Garciaparra in 1999-2000.
"I love catching. I love the demands that are put on me and the responsibilities that I have, although it might beat you up a little bit physically and mentally," Mauer said. "I like being back there making those decisions, you know, for my team."
After missing April with a back injury, Mauer homered on his first swing of the season and went on to lead the AL in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587), the first AL player to top all three categories in the same season since George Brett in 1980.
Mauer set career bests with 28 homers and 96 RBIs. He had more walks (76) than strikeouts (63) and batted .378 after Morneau's season-ending back injury Sept. 12, helping the Twins overtake Detroit for the AL Central title. He was voted to his third All-Star team and won his second straight AL Gold Glove.
Mauer said the injury and his minor rehabilitation assignment might have been a "blessing in disguise." He was forced to do more core work on his abdominal muscles.
"In April, I couldn't watch a whole lot of the games," he said. "I'd watch for a little bit and I'd get so frustrated that I wasn't out there."
Born in St. Paul, the 26-year-old can leave the Twins and become a free agent after the 2010 season, when he is to make $12.5 million. Minnesota is expected to try to sign him to a new deal.
"I've always said it will happen when it needs to happen and I truly believe that," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy that, you know, says by this date we need to have something done."
He enjoys playing in front of his family and friends and his preference is to stay with the Twins.
"Can we win here? Yes. Definitely. I think so," he said. "And that's ultimately what I would like to do."
For now, Twins general manager Bill Smith didn't want to address the business side.
"All that contract stuff, that's for another day," Smith said. "I'll just say one thing: If you think if he finished second that the price is going to come down ... No."
Ivan Rodriguez in 1999 had been the only catcher since Thurman Munson in 1976 to win the AL MVP. The other catchers to win in the AL were Mickey Cochrane (1934), Yogi Berra (1951 and 1954-55) and Elston Howard (1963). NL catchers to win were Gabby Hartnett (1935), Ernie Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953 and 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970 and 1972).
In addition to Mauer and Morneau, other Twins to win were Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Rod Carew (1977).
Mauer receives a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, and Cabrera gets $200,000 for finishing fourth. Cabrera's first-place vote came from Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News, a member of the Seattle chapter.
Teixeira led the AL with 122 RBIs and tied for first with 39 homers. Jeter was second to Morneau in the 2006 voting and finished third behind Juan Gonzalez and Garciaparra in 1998.
The NL MVP is to be announced Tuesday, and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is favored to repeat.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press"
Mauer Is the AL's MVP
"Twins catcher Joe Mauer missed the first month of the season due to injury but bounced back to post an MVP campaign. He was a runaway winner in balloting for the AL award. (Nov. 23) " Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins Catcher, on winning AL MVP - SIRIUS|XM Radio, from youtube.com "Minnesota Twins Catcher, Joe Mauer, talks with Casey Stern and Kevin Kennedy on Inside Pitch about winning the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player award. Home Plate is the only radio channel dedicated to Major League Baseball. 24-7-365! "