The Twins magic number to clinch the American League Central is 6.
As of yesterday, after their elimination-staving victory in the Motor City, they had a 4 percent chance of making the playoffs per ESPN. That number now stands at 8.2 percent.
Leyland has to know that by not taking care of business, he perhaps opened up pandora's box in the Horrors of the Metrodome to play an x-factor this weekend.
The last thing he probably wanted to do was send a desperate, but not beaten Minnesota Twins team home for their last regular season homestand, back to the Metrodome in what is sure to be an emotional farewell weekend at the very least. Adrenaline is sure to be flowing in one of the loudest venues in baseball as video montages and other nostalgic memories play throughout the weekend.
Leyland's team, on the other hand, must now try and take two of three against fellow divisional rival, Chicago White Sox, at home, when all they had to do was get the job done on their end yesterday.
If you saw his postgame comments on ESPN last night or this morning, he didn't exactly look or sound confident, Tigers comments" target="_blank">much like some Tigers fans.
What will it take for the Twins to make the playoffs?
Twins have three ways to further their season. The Tigers' magic number is two:
- Detroit 1/3 vs. Chicago, Twins sweep KC=tie, one game playoff in Minn.
- Detroit 0/3 vs. Chicago, Twins sweep KC=Twins win division by one, no playoff needed
- Detroit 0/3 vs. Chicago, Twins 2/3 vs. KC=tie 1 game playoff in Minn. since I don't think divisions can be won or lost by .5 a game right? and Detroit would have failed to reach magic number any way.
This is all the more important why MLB's Last Chance at a True Spoiler" target="_blank">this run be seen to completion. The projected starters in each series this weekend are:
Friday October 2
Chicago Jake Peavy, 2-0, 2.25 ERA vs. Detroit Edwin Jackson, 13-8, 3.36 ERA could be a gem on either end. Chicago wins a close one.
Minnesota Manship, 0-1, 5.81 ERA vs. KC DiNardo, 0-2, 7.52 at home I like Minnesota's chances. I think they'll win but it will be close. Manship is a huge risk but at least its not automatic Loss-riano.
Saturday October 3
Chicago Garcia, 2-4, 4.78 ERA vs. Detroit Figaro (who?), 2-1, 5.74 ERA.
Not sure why the Tigers are screwing around here. Garcia is a big-game pitcher. Remember him last year when we needed the Sox ironically to lose against Detroit and they didn't? Weird. Now we want him to win one year later.
Minnesota Blackburn, 11-11, 4.08 ERA vs. KC Grienke, 16-8, 2.06 ERA.
This is the one the Twins could lose. You have to figure Grienke is bound to screw up once as he's had a few cold stretches this year. He dominated last Sunday but that was against crappy has-been Liriano.
Blackburn will at least give the Twins a fighting chance like he did Tuesday in game 1 vs. Detroit and the one-game playoff last year vs. Chicago. This would be a very @$$%*$ thing for KC to do by starting him twice against Minnesota, when they know they need the wins. Those runts.
This is the scary one. I see Chicago having the advantage in their game but I don't like the Twins' chances. Still maybe 45,000 fans will get into Grienke's head in what will be the FOX game of the week if the game as any meaning.
Sunday October 4
Chicago Danks, 13-10, 3.69 ERA vs. Detroit Verlander, 18-9, 3.45 ERA.
Tigers would be dumb to start Verlander here since he wouldn't be able to pitch a game one in NY or the one-game playoff vs. Minnesota, if needed. Also with almost identical ERAs I expect a low 3-2 or 4-3 type game here.
Saturday is the real x-factor of the series as I see it, if the Twins can just make it that far.
Minnesota Duensing, 5-2, 3.69 ERA v. KC Hochevar, 7-12, 6.24 ERA.
I like their chances here. Not only is Duensing a better home pitcher but KC gave them an easier-than-it-could-have-been matchup here if they can just make it. I don't like a rookie starting a must-win game but if Manship survives Friday why can't Duensing Sunday? I think the crowd will really help him out as the atmosphere could be electric and deafening if the game still has meaning.
X-factor: Both the Tigers and Twins series' are at home for each team. Minnesota is a great home team, especially when the playoffs are on the line and don't forget 40,000 in the Dome is a crazy atmosphere and they will not only be welcoming their boys home but closing out the Dome in a very emotional series no matter what happens.
This has all the makings of 2006, where the scrappy Twins came out of nowhere to overtake the Tigers for the division, all over again as I wrote about in July. Would this time be any more epic?
My guess is yes considering they cut the deficit even closer to the wire this time and the closing of the Dome aspect just seems all too fitting, however heart-attack baseball is getting very difficult to watch and you have to wonder if the baseball Gods are watching the Twins after last year's one-pitch-playoff where a Jim Thome mid-game home run provided all the offense the White Sox needed to overcome the Twins in game 163 just last year.
As Peter Gammons has been saying all along, we very well could have bonus baseball in the form of a one-game playoff in Minneapolis on Tuesday, fittingly at the Dome.
But none of that will matter if the Twins don't take care of business tonight. As long as they continue to win, the pressure remains on the Tigers for history to not repeat itself, because this time, there is no Wild Card to fall back on.