Detroit's Nightmare Continues As Minnesota Forces One Game Playoff

Kevin LindseyAnalyst IOctober 4, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Scott Baker #30 of the Minnesota Twins poses during photo day at the Twins spring training complex February 23, 2008 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

If you are a Detroit Tigers fan, the Minnesota Twins must be the Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Chucky Doll of your nightmares all rolled into one.   

Every time the Tigers think they have finished off the Twins, the Twins pop up from the grave to grab hold of Detroit.

As the last week of the season began, the Twins were not supposed to be within striking distance of the Tigers.   Yet, the Twins were there staring the Tigers down.

Some thought the Twins wouldn’t get out of the gate fast enough with MVP Joe Mauer on the disabled list to start the season.   Justin Morneau had other ideas.  Morneau carried the Twins in April and May batting .341 with 14 HRs and 47 RBI’s.

The Tigers had to feel that the Twins would wilt during the dog days of summer as the bottom half of the Twins line-up became enamored with the Mario Mendoza line. 

At the All-Star break, Alexi Casilla was .198, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs; Nick Punto was .201, 0 HRs, 16 RBIs; Carlos Gomez was .235, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs; and Matt Tolbert was .178, 1 HR and 12 RBIs.  While Delmon Young was batting .266 at the All-Star Break he had only 2 Homeruns and 25 RBIs.

No way, the Twins could keep themselves in the race with hitters 6 through 9 of the Twins line up not being able to buy a hit or drive in a run.

Baby faced Scott Baker went 12-3 during the months of June through September.   Baker had never won more than 11 games in an entire season before this year.  Joe Mauer who everyone expected would play well surprised even his most ardent fans.  Mauer would flirt with .400 for most of the year and hit 26 homeruns before September despite missing the first month and half of the year. 

Detroit still held a 6 1/2 game lead for most of September when the Twins lost Morneau to a stress fracture in his lower back. 

Tigers Manager Jim Leyland finally could enjoy a smoke as the Twins had no one to pick up Morneau’s production.  Well, Leyland could not enjoy a smoke in the Metrodome because it is a no-smoking facility but you know what I mean. 

Just when it appeared all was safe in the Motor City, Michael Cuddyer decided to go on Home Run hitting spree.  In September, Cuddyer hit 8 HRs and 24 RBIs filling in for Morneau as the Twins pulled within 2 games of Detroit within one week left in the season.

Monsters never attack you in your home right?  On September 28th, the Tigers had to feel pretty good that the nightmare was going to come to an end.  Yes, the Twins were coming to town to play a 4 game series but their ace Jason Verlander was rested and that was a sure win. 

The “trap” went according to plan as the Tigers won2 out of the first 3 games.  Now, all the Tigers needed to do was put the final stake into the heart of the Twins and win the last game of the series.

The Twins refused to go away quietly winning the last game of the series 8-3.

Leyland and his troops still had to feel good as their magic number had been reduced to 2.  Any combination of 2 Tiger wins or Twins losses would put the Tigers into the playoffs.

The Twins were hanging on the edge of the cliff with their fingernails after they left Detroit they were 2 games back of the Tigers with only 3 games to play.  All the Tigers had to do was to apply a little pressure with their foot to the Twins fingers and it would be over.

 The Tigers surely could muster 2 wins against the Chicago White Sox as they had given up the ghost.   Manager Ozzie Guillen was chewing out his troops for their unprofessionalism for watching college football in the clubhouse during a game. 

Even if the Tigers could manage only one win, the Twins were good for at least one loss right?

The Kansas City Royals were not world beaters however their Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke was 3-0 in September with an ERA of 0.55.  The Twins pitching staff was in shambles and Nick Blackburn and Carl Pavano would have to throw on short rest.

Roll credits on the 2009 Twins season, right?

You haven’t seen North by Northwest have you?  Cary Grant would be proud of the 2009 Twins.  The White Sox took 2 out of 3 against the Tigers and the Twins swept Greinke and the Royals.

Of course, Twins fans were also given a few hearts in the throat moments this weekend watching the series with Kansas City.  Sweeping the Royals without any drama would be too easy.

In Game One, the Twins burst out to a 10-0 lead only to see the Royals come back to score 7 and bring the tying run to the plate.

 In Game Two, the Twins scored 4 off of Greinke only to see the Royals come back and score 4 to tie the game before  Cuddyer saved the Twins season with an 8th inning solo home run. 

Game Three appeared to be a repeat with the Royals coming back after spotting the Twins a 7 run lead.  This time however the Twins kept hitting homeruns pushing the final score to 13-4.

Now the Tigers and Twins will meet one more time as the Tigers have to fly to Minneapolis to play on Tuesday.  Of course it is no longer clear outside of Detroit and Minneapolis which team you want to see advance. 

You can almost picture Tiger Manager Jim Leyland stamping out his cigarette with his foot and shaking his fist to the sky saying you “Damn you, Twins” as he boards the flight to Minneapolis.

Will the Tigers nightmare end?  Or is it just the beginning . . . . for the Twins? 

How many times do you think the Twins will be referenced by little league baseball coaches next year if they win on Tuesday?

Poor Jim Leyland, he won’t even be able to calm his nerves with a cigarette when the spooky music begins.