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Twins trim Tigers, head to New York

October 07, 2009|Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Baseball's only real pennant race needed an extra game and extra innings to finish off an American League Central thriller that got better with every pitch.

Alexi Casilla singled home the winning run in the 12th and the Minnesota Twins rallied past Detroit, 6-5, in their tiebreaker Tuesday night, completing a colossal collapse for the Tigers.

"This is the most unbelievable game I've ever played or seen," Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera said.

As Carlos Gomez streaked home from second with the winning run, the Twins celebrated and scrambled -- they had 21 hours to get ready for Game 1 of the AL playoffs at Yankee Stadium against New York ace CC Sabathia.

The Tigers became the first team in major league history to blow a three-game lead with four games left. "I guess it's fitting to say there was a loser in this game because we lost the game, but it's hard for me to believe there was a loser in this game," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. "Both teams played their hearts out."

The Twins overcame a seven-game gap in the final month and won their fifth division title in eight years.

Both teams had their chances to end it earlier, and each club scored in the 10th. Casilla was thrown out at the plate to end that inning by left fielder Ryan Raburn after tagging up.

Detroit thought it had taken the lead in the 12th. But with the bases loaded, plate umpire Randy Marsh ruled that Brandon Inge was not hit by a Bobby Keppel pitch. The replay appeared to show the pitch grazing Inge's uniform.

Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney (2-5) gave up a single to Gomez to start the 12th, and the speedy center fielder moved up on a groundout. He scored the winning run when Casilla's single made it through the right side of the infield.

Twins closer Joe Nathan found trouble in the ninth when consecutive singles put runners at the corners, but he got a strikeout and a line-drive double play to end that threat.

Inge's two-out double in the 10th gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead, but Michael Cuddyer sliced a triple past Raburn in left and scored on Matt Tolbert's single in the bottom of the inning.

According to STATS LLC, only three teams since 1901 have lost a three-game lead in the standings with four games left. The 1980 Houston Astros recovered to defeat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game for the NL West. The 1982 Milwaukee Brewers beat the Orioles in the final regular-season game to win the AL East.

The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the third inning that made it 3-0. The Twins crept back; Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the seventh gave them a lead that Magglio Ordonez ended with a homer in the eighth.

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