Minnesota Twins and Gutsy Gardenhire Split Doubleheader

Dan AdamsCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2009

It was definitely a playoff atmosphere in Comerica Park all day on Tuesday. Both teams showed grit and guts in the doubleheader on Tuesday. In the opener, Minnesota Twins Head Coach, Ron Gardenhire pulled out all the stops. Sacrificing runners into prime scoring position four times in one game for the first time since 1980.

Also, calling for a controversial suicide squeeze on the first pitch of Nick Punto's at bat in the top of the ninth inning. A high and tight pitch by Detroit Tigers pitcher, Brandon Lyon cause Punto to pop the ball up, ending the Twins threat to take the lead.

Little did Gardenhire know that it would allow Denard Span to lead off the tenth with a single and score the tiebreaking run following back to back wild pitches. Leyland gambled and left Lyon in the game. He gave up a second run on a Delmon Young sacrifice fly. It would turn out to be the deciding run.

In the second game of the doubleheader both managers were thrown multiple difficult situations and were forced to make game changing decisions. Particularly, Leyland's decision to leave starting pitcher, Justin Verlander in for the seventh and eighth innings even though he had already accumulated over 100 pitches. He gave up an additional two runs and allowed a game-tying runner to reach second base in the eighth inning.

Luckily, Twins first baseman, Michael Cuddyer dribbled a pitch to third ending the threat. Detroit closer, Fernando Rodney struggled through the ninth with some sketchy defense from his centerfielder Curtis Granderson on what could have been the final out. Nick Punto hit the ball deep to center, Granderson misjudged the depth of the ball.

It allowed Delmon Young to score from first base and the Twins again cut the lead to one, and had the tying run at second base. Denard Span flew out to left field to end the game and give Detroit a much needed split in the doubleheader.

Both managers could receive criticism for some of their decisions during both games. Particularly, Twins Manager, Ron Gardenhire for walking Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the fifth inning. Following the intentional walk, starting pitcher Brian Duensing continued on to walk the next batter loading the bases.

This opened up the chance for the Tigers to break the game open and deplete any chance Duensing had for a quality start. Bobby Keppel was called into relieve Duensing following the walk and on the first pitch, Brandon Inge drilled a base hit giving the Tigers a 5-0 lead. It would prove to be to tall of a mountain for the plucky Twins to climb.

The Twins have advantageous pitching matchups in the final two games of the series and now have put the pressure on themselves to stay in the race. With a win on Tuesday night, they would have taken a share of the American League Central lead and at the very worst a series split in their future.

Now with five games remaining, Detroit has reduced their magic number to four. Tune into ESPN at 7pm ET for Wednesday Night Baseball and the most crucial game of the season for both clubs.