Tigers Drop Finale, Division to Twins
- Updated: October 8, 2009
Detroit 5, Minnesota 6 (box)
Final Record 86-77 (second place)
Devastation. That’s what I felt Tuesday night as the Twins celebrated following their 12th inning walk off, that’s what I’m feeling Wednesday morning as I write this.
The back and forth nature of this game made it a classic. The stakes made it one of the greatest in recent memory. As a Tiger fan, I think it may be easy to get so wrapped up in the disappointment of losing and miss that this was one of the great games in the last several years.
The long and short is that the Twins won the game on a walk-off single by Alexi Casilla, a player whose game last night and season this year might personify the Twins better than any other. Casilla began the year as the starting second baseman in Minnesota. He struggled and was sent to the minor leagues. When he got back, Nick Punto had taken his job. Now he is the Twins’ biggest hero.
There is plenty of second guessing to be done now that the results are in. Why was Fernando Rodney left out there for his fourth inning of work? Why did Jim Leyland send Zach Miner back to the mound in the seventh after he had struggled in the sixth? Why would you walk Delmon Young to get to Casilla when he was 3/5 in his career versus Rodney?
The answers no longer matter, there was no game for the Tigers on Wednesday or for the rest of the 2009 season.
Critics will call this Tigers team chokers. They will note that Detroit is the first team to miss the playoffs after holding a three game lead with four to play. What they forget is that the Twins won 17 of the last 21 games to pass them. Let it be noted that three of those four losses came versus the Tigers. Minnesota just stopped losing to anyone else. A team that had played under .500 all year took off when two of their best hitters were lost for the season. The Twins were a freight train. There was no stopping them.
- Magglio Ordonez– Maggs got the scoring started with a run scoring single, then tied the game with a solo home run when hope appeared lost in the eighth. It was the second straight game in which Magglio homered. He had an amazing second half.
- Miguel Cabrera– for all he put himself through over the weekend, Cabrera delivered a double and a two-run homer in his first two at bats. As Chip Caray noted, “Redemption, thy name is Cabrera.”
- Fernando Rodney– The numbers will show that Rodney allowed the tying run in the 10th and then the winning run in the 12th, but Rodney pitched his heart out and had to work around a misplayed triple that put the tying run on base in that 10th inning. I don’t know, but I would guess he went up by at least five points in Leyland’s book. Too soon?
- Rick Porcello– It feels like months ago that Porcello started this game. He tied his career high with eight strike outs and pitched very well, all things considered. It’s going to be fun watching him pitch in Detroit for years to come.
- The Minnesota Twins– They just stopped losing. I would hope that this incredible run is remembered by history far more than the Tigers’ losses. Detroit did not go 2-13 down the stretch or anything like that, Minnesota just caught fire and there was nothing that could stop them. Congratulations to the Division Champs. Now go kick the hell out of the Yankees.
- Zach Miner– Miner came up small in the biggest spot of the year, unable to keep Orlando Cabrera in the ballpark and turning a one run lead into a deficit. He can be an effective pitcher, but he thinks he’s a starter. Trade him to someone else that agrees.
- Ryan Raburn– Raburn helped the cause with two hits and he gunned down the winning run at the plate, but his defense cuts the other way, too. Raburn leapt into (and not over) the wall on the Cabrera homer that gave Minnesota the lead, a more experienced outfielder would know to give himself more room to jump. He also played Micheal Cuddyer’s single into a triple to lead off the 10th with a one run lead. You absolutely have got to keep that ball in front of you, he did not.
What’s on tap
Sadly, nothing. The Tigers end the season in second place after leading the division for 163 straight days. There is a long, cold winter ahead. Brandon Inge faces knee surgery, several players will be moving on to new clubs, and several new faces will take their place.
I’ll have a season recap coming soon. In the meantime, watch the playoffs and hope that this club can play meaningful games next October as well. That’s really all you can ask for.