Jason Kubel got those familiar white
towels waving with a pair of three-run homers and Minnesota beat Kansas
City 13-4 Sunday, putting the Twins into a one-game playoff with the
Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title.
The Twins and Tigers, who beat the
White Sox 5-3, will meet at 4 p.m. CDT Tuesday with the division title
and a postseason date with the New York Yankees going to the winner.
Scott Baker will start the tiebreaker
for the Twins against Detroit rookie Rick Porcello. The teams get a day
off because the Minnesota Vikings host Green Bay on Monday night.
Delmon Young added two solo home runs
and Michael Cuddyer also went deep for the Twins, who overcame a
three-game deficit by winning its final four games. Minnesota won 16 of
20 to reach the playoff.
Carl Pavano (14-12) pitched on three
days' rest, giving up four runs and striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings
in what was supposed to be the final regular-season baseball game in
The Twins move outside to Target
Field next year, but they're more than happy to keep playing under the
shabby white roof for the time being.
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals, who fell behind 8-1 but rallied to bring the tying run to the plate.
Minnesota was seven games down to the
Tigers on Sept. 6 and appeared all but gone after falling four back
with a loss at Detroit on Wednesday.
But the Twins rebounded to beat the
Tigers on Thursday, swept Kansas City and got some help from the White
Sox, who took two of three in Detroit.
"I guess it just says a little bit
about the tenacity of this baseball team," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said before the game. "They keep playing until the end. The fans want a
full 162-game schedule and they're getting it."
And then some.
The Twins have been here before.
Last season they went to a one-game
tiebreaker for the AL Central against the White Sox, losing a 1-0
heartbreaker in Chicago to miss out on postseason. That game was played
in the Windy City because the White Sox won a coin flip, something that
infuriated the Twins after they won the season series.
Major League Baseball changed the
tiebreaker rule this season, giving home field to the team that won the
head-to-head season series. The Twins went 11-7 against the Tigers this
season, including 7-2 at the Metrodome.
Players from Dome lore such as Kent
Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Frank Viola were in attendance for a farewell
celebration of 28 weird, wacky and sometimes wonderful seasons under
It turns out they came one game too early.
Homer Hankies that first made the
national scene with the Twins' run to the World Series title in 1987
were back on display, and 51,155 fans — the largest crowd since opening
day of 1993 – got an early reason to use them.
Luke Hochevar (7-13) walked Denard
Span, who stole second, to start the game. Then, with chants of "MVP!
MVP!" raining down, he pitched around Joe Mauer with one out and first
base open. Kubel followed with an upper deck homer to right field and,
two batters later, Young hit a solo shot to make it 4-0.
Mauer went 0-for-3 and is hitting
.364 for the season, all but assuring him of his second straight AL
batting title and third in his career.
Kubel's second homer of the game
landed just over leaping left fielder Willie Bloomquist's glove for a
7-0 lead. From then on, the crowd turned its eyes to the scoreboard,
hoping the same White Sox that spoiled their season last year would
help turn the day into a coronation.
Chants of "Let's go, White Sox!"
filled the Dome, and one of the loudest roars of the day came when the
scoreboard showed Chicago cutting Detroit's lead to 5-3. But the Tigers
So, to paraphrase the late, great
Jack Buck's call after Kirby Puckett's game-winning homer in Game 6 of
the 1991 World Series against Atlanta …
And we'll see ya Tuesday afternoon!
Royals head athletic trainer
Nick Swartz worked his last game. He is retiring after 21 years with
the team and 33 in the organization. … Twins SS Orlando Cabrera
extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single in the
third. … The last time the Twins had two players with multiple homers
in the same game was July 12, 2001, against Milwaukee. Jacque Jones,
Torii Hunter and all went deep twice in that game.
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