Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Great game on Tuesday. More, please.

Alexi Casilla is the first hero of the postseason, though technically, his heroics took place during an extended regular season, but let's not argue over minor details.

Tuesday's game between the Twins and the Tigers, Game 163 of the regular season for those two teams, was necessary to determine the AL Central champ, so it was every bit a playoff game. It was no different from a Game 5 of the ALDS or a Game 7 of the ALCS.

Winner moves on. Loser goes home.

The Twins were winners thanks to Casilla's 12th inning single that drove home the winning run in a 6-5 victory. This after Casilla's inability to properly tag at third base in the 10th cost the Twins what would have been the winning run.

The game was the perfect warm-up to the postseason.

The Tigers jumped to a 3-0 lead. They blew a 3-0 lead.

They trailed 4-3 and led 5-4.

Tigers closer, Fernando Rodney (He of the wayward toss into the Tropicana Field press box after a game Sept. 4)turned in the performance of his life, pitching three innings but took the loss.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire used seven relievers, and five turned in scoreless outings.

Tigers left fielder Ryan Raburn lost a ball in the lights and played a single into a triple that allowed the Twins tie the score at 5-5 in the 10th. Goat? Maybe. But it was Radburn who threw Casilla out at the plate to end the inning and extend the Tigers season for two more innings.

It was a game you didn't want to see end, unless you were a fan of the Twins or Tigers.

The game was necessary because the Tigers couldn't hold a seven game lead in the final month of the season. We know this about the Twins, they don't quit.

Minnesota came on strong at the end of the 2008 season and forced a one-game playoff with the Chicago White Sox.

Orlando Cabrera was the White Sox shortstop last year. He is the Twins shortstop this year.

Maybe Cabrera is the key to winning these one-game playoffs in the AL Central. He is to that division what Eric Hinske is to the AL East. Can't win the title without him.

This is the third straight year a one-game playoff was necessary to determine the final playoff team. The Rockies beat the Padres in a thriller in 2007. The White Sox beat the Twins 1-0 in 2008. Tuesday gave us the epic 12 inning Twins victory.

All three games were decided by one run. Two were decided in extra innings with walk-off victories. The other ended with diving catch in center field.

I don't know about you, but I kind like these one-game play-ins.

The postseason starts today. The Twins had 21 hours to celebrate their victory, fly to New York, get some sleep and prepare to battle the Yankees, winners of 103 games this season, in Game 1 of the ALDS that begins tonight at 6 p.m.

I wouldn't mind a repeat of Tuesday's dual at the dome as we go forward with this postseason.

Would it be too much to ask a few Game 5s and maybe a Game 7 in one ALCS be decided by such a contest?

And, if that's not too much, can the World Series go seven games? And can Game 7 go 12 innings?

Give me those, and I won't ask for anything else until next season.

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