It all comes down to today. With the Detroit Tigers showing no offensive punch in a brutal 5-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox and the Twins beating American League Cy Young favorite Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals 5-4 earlier in the day, the Twins moved into a first-place tie with the Tigers in the worst division in baseball, the American League Central. If the Twins win today, they are at least assured a least a tiebreaker game for all the marbles against the Tigers on Tuesday to determine who will face the New York Yankees in the postseason. And if Detroit loses, well, people in Detroit will be even more depressed than usual.
This is the third time in four seasons that the Twins have an opportunity to win their division on the last day of the season. Last year, Minnesota forced a one-game playoff with the White Sox, only to ultimately lose that game 1-0.
In the end, the pressure is all on the Tigers – the Twins can play it pretty loosey-goosey, considering no team since division play began in 1969 has won their division after being three games back with four games to play. As far as they are concerned, the Twins probably feel they are playing with house money at this point. Given that today’s game will be the last regular season game to be played ever at the Metrodome and they are expecting over 50,000 at the Dump, everything appears to be working in Minnesota’s favor, who have won 15 of 19. The Tigers, meanwhile, are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have lost three straight.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has all but accepted that Minnesota will win today. He understands what is at stake and hopes his players are aware of the fact they are on the verge of an historic epic fail, although he is somewhat encouraged that staff ace Justin Verlander will be starting today.
“They’re not going to get beat,” he said. “(Verlander) has been a horse. Hopefully we can win that one tomorrow and start the kid [Rick Porcello] up in Minnesota.”
You always feel pretty good with Justin going,” Leyland said, “but you’re still going to have to score some runs.”
Leyland said he told the players after Saturday night’s game, “You have to play your hearts out tomorrow.” via.
All I know is it is incredibly difficult to swing a bat with your hands clenched firmly around your own throat. Don’t the Tigers realize that the entire population of the downtrodden town of Detroit is depending on the team to lift them out of the city’s economic and social morass? Come on, guys!