Talk of tiebreakers
The first comment made to Ron Gardenhire during his opening interview session of the American League Division Series Wednesday at Yankee Stadium was an offer of congratulations for Minnesota’s great win over Detroit in Tuesday’s thrilling American League Central tiebreaker at the Metrodome.
At that point, the Minnesota manager sort of patted his heart and smiled, as if to humorously indicate the ticker barely survived Tuesday’s excitement. But it didn’t stop Gardenhire from talking about a game that will live on a long time in his memory.
“I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it,” Gardenhire said. “I told (Detroit manager) Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in.
“Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs. It was just fantastic baseball.”
Gardenhire and the Twins are no stranger to this sort of win-or-go home type of contest. In a game that was every bit as exciting as last night’s memorable affair, Minnesota came up short to the White Sox in a 1-0 final that gave the South Siders the 2008 AL Central title. That contest featured great pitching by John Danks and Nick Blackburn, Jim Thome’s mammoth home run for the game’s only run and a pinpoint throw by center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. and an even better catch and tag by A.Z. Pierzynski to nail Michael Cuddyer at the plate
There was one problem with that contest in Gardenhire’s mind. Well, two if you factor in the final. The home field was decided by a coin flip, which went the way of the White Sox, although Minnesota had the better 2008 head-to-head record.
“Last year, I didn’t really particularly like it because of a coin toss,” Gardenhire said. “I thought that really (stunk). This year, you went on head-to-head and we got the ballgame at home which kind of helped us out.
“I don’t recommend everybody playing 163 games every year. It would be a lot easier to go the different route and do what the Yankees did or some of the other guys. Just play 162 and then you’re in the playoffs. But, you know what, it’s character — I mean it’s kind of mind-boggling. It shows a lot of character.”
Minnesota shortstop Orlando Cabrera agreed. Cabrera has played on the winning team in each of the last two AL Central tiebreakers and gives the Twins’ victory a slight edge.
“By far, that was the most emotional and intense game I’ve ever seen or played in,” Cabrera said. “And I’ve played in and watched a lot of games since I was a kid in Colombia.
“It was unbelievable. I never expected the Detroit Tigers to play that kind of game, especially the way they have been playing for the last eight games. I was really impressed with them. We put on a good show.”