Sunday, October 11, 2009

Game 163

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of days and finally I have a little bit of time to recap what an amazing game.   Just to refresh your memory the Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings on Tuesday to win the AL Central and complete one of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history.     You know it is a good game when you don't want to leave the ballpark after nearly 5 hours of being there.  Also, after that I went home and watched highlights of the game and then watched the complete game on DVR the next day.  There wasn't a highlight that could be shown or an article that could be written that I wouldn't want to watch or read.   

Anyway in honor of that game I will go through the top 20 moments from the game:
  1. The lineups being introduced and seeing 54,000 Twins fans waving their homer hankies.   I had been to big games (including 2 playoff games) before at the Metrodome, but I had never seen what looked like an entire stadium full of the familiar white hankies that had been first introduced in 1987 when the Twins won their first World Series.
  2. On Miguel Cabrera's 2nd at-bat the Twins fans chanted "al-coh-lic"  (in reference to his previous Friday night activities, which I have written about) and all he did was take an 0-2 pitch and crush it high and long to dead center to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.   As loud as the Metrodome was during the introductions it was just as quiet after that home run.
  3. Matt Tolbert starting the comeback with an infield single and eventually scoring on a missed pickoff play.   I don't know if the new crew is like the 2006 team, but that definitely  was a piranha like run.   
  4. Jason Kubel's home run that cut the lead to 3-2 Tigers in the 6th inning and almost started a fight in section 224.   Somebody had walked in front of a group of fans right as Kubel hit his moon shot and the fans that missed the play took exception.   I agree with the aggrieved fans that the proper baseball etiquette is to wait till the end of an at-bat or inning before walking across your row.  
  5. Nick Punto's 9 pitch at bat that resulted in a single and led to the below.
  6. Orlando Cabrera's home run in the bottom of the 7th to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.   This caused a crazy celebration that led me to high five and hug both my friends to the left and the random people to the right.  This is the first time I thought the Twins might actually win the game.   
  7. Magglio Ordonez's home run in the next half inning to tie the game 4-4.   As long and as tough as it was for the Twins to come back and get the lead it took the Tigers two pitches to tie the game back.  
  8. Joe Nathan strikes out Placido Polanco with runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out in the 9th inning.  Polanco only struck out 7% of the time this year, so to say that was a surprise is an understatement.   All Polanco had to do was get bat on ball and he would off almost guaranteed scored  a run.
  9. Orlando Cabrera's double play on the very next batter.  I don't know what Granderson was thinking, but it was a great play by Cabrera to take advantage of that mistake.
  10. Brandon Inge's double with 2 outs in the 10th inning that scores a run and gives the Tigers a 5-4 lead.  The most frustrating thing about this run was that the runner was only on base because Jesse Crain hit Aubrey Huff on an 0-2 pitch.  
  11. Michael Cuddyer's lead off single turned triple thanks to the alligator arms of Ryan Rayburn in the 10th inning.
  12. Matt Tolbert's bleeder of a single through the middle that was thisclose to a double play, but instead resulted in a tie game and and runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out.
  13. Nick Punto was the next batter and needing only a sac fly to win the game he lined a ball that turned into a double play when Alexi Casilla was thrown out at home.   The two  frustrating things about this play was that Punto hit the ball very well (not a common occurance) and that Casilla hesitated before tagging up at 3rd.   He was thrown out by 6 inches and might have been safe if he would have made shown some basic baserunning logic.  
  14. Nick Punto's defensive play at the plate.   In the 12th inning with bases loaded and only 1 out Brandon Inge hit a ground ball in the middle of the infield and Punto made the decision that he was not going to get a double play and instead made a tough throw home to get the runner on force out.   This was a huge play because Punto had to be thinking about getting a double play and he changed his mind in mid play because he knew (correctly) that the ball was hit too slow for him to try and get both the runner at 2nd and Inge.   This one play justified Gardy's decision to keep playing Punto and Bill Smith's decision to pay a below average batter $4M this year.  
  15. Bobby Keppel strikes out Gerald Laird on a 3-2 pitch that would probably have been a ball if Laird wouldn't have swung and missed.   One of the truly overlooked heroes of the game for the Twins was Laird.   He went 0-6 with 2 strikeouts and one double play and included in those numbers was his 0-4 with runners in scoring position.   If Laird would have had even a below average game the Tigers would have won the game.   
  16. Carlos Gomez starts off the 12th with a single between the 3rd baseman and shortstop. Huge hit considering it was the leadoff batter for the inning and the fact that Gomez is Usain Bolt fast.  
  17. Michael Cuddyer moves Gomez over in an unconventional way by hitting a high chopper of a ground ball to Inge at 3rd base.  
  18. Delmon Young gets intentionally walked.   This was no a top moment because I never thought I would see the day that Delmon Young of all players would be intenionally walked.  I guess that shows you how much Jim Leyland thought of Alexi Casilla.
  19. The top moment from the game had to be the last one where Casilla hits a ground ball through hole in the right side of the infield and Carlos Gomez easily scores from 2nd.
  20. There wasn't much better than the celebration after the game.   Everyone from the fans to the players absolutely lost it in a moment of pure glee.  We stayed and cheered and sang along to "New York, New York" and  "Ain't No Stopping Us Now."   We watched the Twins players give victory laps around the field.   It was a special moment for the Twins and one that will be forever stamped in my memory.
Here are some other articles from what I consider the greatest game I have ever seen.

Jim Souhan "The Dome would not go quietly" including this great line "In a building known for pop-ups that never come down, the Twins won their final game in typically improbable fashion, with two benched best friends finally producing the game-winning run to give the victor to a journeyman reliever who contemplated retirement last winter."  
Pictures and video from the game are here.  

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