Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

Continued: Twins flying high after tense, taut thriller

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 7, 2009 - 11:27 AM

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a panicked question for bench coach Steve Liddle in the 12th inning Tuesday night, as he watched Alexi Casilla stroll to home plate against Tigers closer Fernando Rodney.

"He's got numbers off this guy, right?" Gardenhire barked.

"Yes," Liddle assured him, "He's 3-for-5."

Never mind Casilla's .202 season batting average. It had been that kind of night. Decisions made on the fly. Little ones, big ones, with nothing but the entire season on the line.

Casilla had told Liddle he wanted to be the hero of this one-game tiebreaker to decide the American League Central. Two innings earlier, he looked like the goat.

But sure enough, Casilla grounded a single to right field, scoring Carlos Gomez from second base for a 6-5 victory that left an announced crowd of 54,088 at the Metrodome delirious.

Gomez raced around third base and slid headfirst into home, even though the play wasn't close. Players rushed from the dugout to mob Gomez, then hustled out near third base to mob Casilla.

Liddle hugged Gardenhire, saying "He's 4-for-6, now!"

As the players celebrated, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blared over the loudspeakers. That's where the Twins were headed after they'd had their fill of champagne and beer. Tonight, they will face the Yankees in Game 1 of the Division Series.

The Twins went 0-7 against the Yankees this year, and they are 5-26 against the Yankees in New York under Gardenhire, counting the postseason. Of course, the Twins haven't faced the Yankees in three months, and they will enter this series riding a 17-4 streak.

"We can play with anybody; we're playing pretty good baseball," Gardenhire said. "We're not afraid, I can guarantee you that."

Why should they be? They are the first team since divisional play started in 1969 to overcome a three-game deficit with four days left in the regular season. And there were numerous times Tuesday, when it looked like this late-season fairy tale would end, closing a 28-year chapter for the Twins in the Metrodome.

The Twins trailed 3-2 in the seventh inning, when Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer gave them their first lead. Magglio Ordonez tied it in the eighth with a home run off Matt Guerrier. Then, things really got interesting.

Twins closer Joe Nathan made a Houdini-like escape in the ninth inning, keeping the Tigers scoreless after they'd put runners at first and third with no outs.

"After about 10 innings," Gardenhire said, "I was going, 'Oh my God, I've never seen anything like this.' "

The Tigers took a 10th-inning lead on Brandon Inge's two-out, RBI double. But Matt Tolbert tied it on a run-scoring bouncer up the middle that came inches from being a game-ending double play turned by Placido Polanco.

Casilla, who entered the game as a pinch runner that inning, raced to third base on Tolbert's hit. The Twins nearly won right there, when Nick Punto hit a liner to left field. But Casilla's foot wasn't on third base, so he had to retreat before tagging up and running home.

Tigers left fielder Ryan Raburn, who had misplayed a sinking liner by Michael Cuddyer into a triple to start the inning, redeemed himself, throwing a one-hop strike to nail Casilla at the plate.

"[Casilla] didn't get quite back in time, but Raburn out there, good God, what a throw," Gardenhire said.

After each team went through a 1-2-3 11th inning, Twins reliever Bobby Keppel survived a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 12th. Inge hit a bouncer to Punto, who made a heads-up play, throwing home to get Miguel Cabrera for the forceout, and Keppel fanned Laird to end the inning, drawing yet another roar from hoarse voices all over the stadium.

That set the stage for Gomez and Casilla, the two players Gardenhire affectionately calls the "Loose Cannons." Gomez had entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning and wound up batting twice in spots where the Twins would have preferred Jason Kubel.

Sure enough, Gomez singled to open the 12th before scoring on Casilla's big hit.

As the wild celebration inside the Twins' clubhouse unfolded, Liddle just shook his head.

"The Loose Cannons finally came through," he said. "Nobody can contain the Cannons."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 23 3rd Qtr
Dallas 7
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 59 2nd Half 7:31
Xavier 70
Illinois 41 2nd Half
Indiana State 20
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Western Ky 5:24 PM
Saint Josephs
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Illinois 9 1st Half 17:07
(9) Kentucky 2
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close