Alexi Casilla Unlikely Hero in Twins Clincher
Bret Favre was the hero for the Vikings on Monday night but the hero on Tuesday night was Alexi Casilla who had told teammate Orlando Cabrera that he would win the game and he kept his word when he drove in the winning run with a single to left field. The hit gave the Twins a 6-5 win over the Tigers who battled the whole game but fell short in their most important game of the year.
It took 162 games and a 12 inning 163rd game for the Minnesota Twins to become the AL Central champions in a very exciting game.
This playoff game may not have had a game ending walkoff homer like the one hit by Bobby Thomson in 1951 when he hit the game winner off of Ralph Branca to give the Giants the 1951 win over the Giants.
However it was still one of the best playoff games I have ever seen on television.
When the Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the third inning it silenced the Minnesota crowd of over 54,000 temporarily. Miguel Cabrera who had been in the news recently for allegedly hitting his wife over the weekend hit a two- run homer in the third as part of a three run inning.
Then the Twins scored four unanswered runs to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning behind a solo homer by Jason Kubel in the sixth inning and a two-run homer by Orlando Cabrera in the seventh inning.
The Tigers scored single runs in the eighth and tenth innings with Magglio Ordonez tying the game 4-4 in the eighth inning with a solo homer. Brandon Inge doubled in the lead run in the tenth inning giving the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Matt Tolbert singled in the tying run for the Twins in the bottom of the tenth to tie the score at 5-5. Then in the twelfth inning Alexi Casilla singled in Carlos Gomez with the winning run in the 6-5 victory by the Twins.
Rick Porcello may have been given the hook too soon by Jim Leyland. Porcello had allowed two runs, four hits and had struck out eight in five and two-thirds innings when he was removed from the game.
It only took reliever Zach Miner two-thirds of an inning to allow two runs and four hits while Porcello pitched into the sixth inning to have the same numbers. Porcello might have been the winning pitcher if not for his throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the third inning.
You can’t assume anything in baseball but if Porcello hadn’t allowed that run to score the Tigers may have won the game 4-3.
Joe Nathan entered the game in the eighth inning and retired the only two batters he faced. Nathan had a scare in the ninth inning when he had runners on first and third with nobody out but Magglio Ordonez hit into an inning ending double play when he lined to Orlando Cabrera who threw to first in time to double off Curtis Granderson at first.
Both teams scored once in the tenth inning to tie the score at 5-5. Then Alexi Casilla who finished the game with a .202 batting average hit the game winning single off Fernando Rodney to right field to give the Twins a 6-5 victory and the 2009 AL Central championship.
Rodney had pitched two innings only three times this season but yesterday he pitched three innings. Leyland apparently was going to go down with his best but pitching Rodney for three innings turned out to be a mistake.
Gerald Laird was 0-6 and personally left 10 runners on base while Brandon Inge left eight runners on base. Placido Polanco left five runners on base. The three players combined to leave 23 of the 29 runners left on base by the Tigers. The Twins had 19 personal runners left on base.
Bob Keppel was the winning pitcher but not before Ron Gardenhire had Ryan Raburn walked intentionally. Keppel was one ball away from letting the Tigers take a 6-5 lead in the top of the twelfth inning but struck out Gerald Laird to end the inning.
For what it is worth I think Gardenhire outmanaged Leyland in the contest. He could have left Nathan in for another inning but after the way Nathan struggled in the ninth inning he was wise to not let him return to the mound in the tenth inning.
Gardenhire used seven relievers while Leyland only used four. I don’t know what Leyland was saving his other relievers for unless he didn’t have any confidence in them so stuck with Rodney.
If this tiebreaker game was an indication of what the postseason will be like we are in for a wild ride.
It will be interesting to see how the Twins react when they play the Yankees in Yankee Stadium tonight. While the Yankees have been resting their starters the Twins had to use their best players before becoming the AL Central champions last night.
Today’s Division Series Matchups
Colorado at Philadelpia
Gametime: 2:37 ET – TBS
The Rockies will start Ubaldo Jiminez who has given up more than two runs only three times in his last ten starts and struck out ten in his last win on October 2 against the Dodgers.
Cliff Lee will take the mound for the Phillies and has been struggling lately. His only two wins since August 24 have been come at the expense of the Nationals the worst team in the majors.
Minnesota at New York
Gametime: 6:07 ET – TBS
C.C. Sabathia who was rocked for five runs, eight hits and five walks by the Rays in his last start will be on the mound for the Yankees. His mound opponent will be Brian Duensing was also hit hard in his last start when the Tigers scored five times and had five hits in four and two-thirds innings in his only loss since July 19.
St. Louis at Los Angeles
Gametime: 9:37 ET – TBS
Chris Carpenter starting for the Cardinals today took the win in his last start over the Reds in a five inning stint and was removed early to save him for the postseason. He has only lost once since June 30.
Randy Wolf will start for the Dodgers and lost his last start last week against the Rockies. It was only his second loss since July 27 when the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers 6-1.