(via Fangraphs, of course)
or a choke job of epic proportions.
I don't think I have ever seen a more dramatic game in my entire life. Wow, just...wow. Both teams were playing as if their entire seasons depended on it. The Tigers obviously didn't want to be known as history's greatest chokers, and the Twins didn't want their incredible 16-4 run over the past couple of weeks run to be in vain. I just, I don't know what to say. Maybe I should just let the guys do the talking:
"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. Both teams played their hearts out. You can’t ask for anything more than that.” - Jim Leyland
"I did not have the ball hitting him. We looked at replays, too, and the replays we’ve looked at, to be honest with you, were inconclusive,” - Crew chief Randy Marsh on the blown hit-by-pitch call that might have cost Detroit the game.
“We just feel like we have nothing to lose, man.” - Denard Span
“We were dead and buried a couple times, and our team just kept coming back,” - Bill Smith
“No matter what we did, it seems like it wasn’t meant to be. This is the best game, by far, that I’ve ever played in no matter the outcome.” - Brandon Inge
“One of the best games I’ll ever play in,” - Joe Mauer
Oh yeah, and Man Muscles officially clinched his third batting title. He finishes the regular season batting .365/.444/.587 with a career-high 28 home runs. Not too shabby.
Detroit, meanwhile, has to be wondering what the hell happened. They led the division since May 10th. They had a seven game lead on September 6th. They had a three game lead on October 1st, with only four to play. No team in the history of major-league baseball has ever choked a way a lead like that. Not even the Mets.
The Twins now face a Yankee team that is superior to them in every way. Their pitching is better, their defense is better, and their offense is a little bit better. New York is obviously the favorite to win this series, and I don't care. I don't think I will ever see a better game than the one I saw tonight, and whatever happens in the postseason, it was all worth it. Wait a minute, a mediocre Twins team facing a heavily favored opponent that they almost certainly have no chance of beating? That story sounds kind of familiar. I wonder where I've heard that one before...
If you're not depressed yet, here are the probable pitching matchups for the ALDS:
Brian Duensing: 3.64 ERA 114 ERA+ 4.10 tRA 1.71 K/BB. The Dunce wasn't supposed to be in the rotation, or with the major-league club at all. This should be Kevin Slowey's spot. The best-laid plans of mice and men, I guess. The Dunce has faced the Yankees only once before, in a relief appearance shortly after he was called up. It didn't go very well. He's never pitched in the postseason, either. Good luck with all that.
C. C. Sabathia: 3.37 ERA 133 ERA+ 3.99 tRA 2.94 K/BB. Yeah, he's got a seven-something ERA in the postseason, but Sabathia owned the Twins when he was with Cleveland. I am already penciling this one in as a loss. And no, I am not dropping the periods from his name.
Nick Blackburn: 4.03 ERA 103 ERA+ 4.66 tRA 2.39 K/BB. Blackbeard finally gets to pitch in the postseason! He hasn't actually done that yet, it just seems like it. He was the starter in the tiebreaking game in Chicago last year, and he also pitched a few couple of must-win games against the Tigers and Royals last week. He's been pretty good in these situations. I guess if the Twins have a chance to win any of these games, it would probably be this one.
A. J. Burnett: 4.04 ERA 110 ERA+ 4.79 tRA 2.01 K/BB. Those numbers are pretty good, if not exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they signed Burnett to that 5 year, $82.5 million deal. Interesting fact: Burnett lead the league in wild pitches this year.
Carl Pavano: 5.10 ERA 86 ERA+ 4.50 tRA 3.77 K/BB. He's only faced his former employer a couple of times this year, giving up four runs on eleven hits in thirteen innings, including a home run. I can't wait to hear all of those lookit-Carl-Pavano-is-pitching-against-the-Yankees-in-the-postseason stories.
And the rest? Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I know the Yankees are probably going to win this series. I just want them to have to work for it. I want the series to go all five games, with each game a nailbiter. I don't think that's too much to ask.