Tiebreaker Will Determine AL Central Winner

October 4, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015
GONE: Minnesota's Jason Kubel watches his second three-run homer of the game leave the park in the third inning.  (Genevieve Ross/Getty Images)
GONE: Minnesota's Jason Kubel watches his second three-run homer of the game leave the park in the third inning. (Genevieve Ross/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Twins’ late season assault on the AL Central division has led them to one final game—a tiebreaker against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

The Twins, who won 16 of their final 20 games, caught up with the Tigers in the standings after their game on Saturday, the second last day of the season, with a narrow win over Kansas City.

Going into the final day of the regular season on Sunday, the Tigers and Twins both had a record of 85–76.

The Tigers played first, at home against the White Sox. Justin Verlander started for Detroit, who got off to a great start and stayed in complete control for seven innings. They went into the eighth inning with a 5–0 lead.

However, things got a bit tense for the Tigers as Verlander gave up three runs in the eighth and was replaced on the mound by closer Fernando Rodney. Detroit managed to get out of the inning via a spectacular diving catch by center fielder Curtis Granderson on a shallow fly ball with two out and runners on first and second.

After the win, Detroit had to wait in the clubhouse for the outcome of the Twins–Royals game to see whether they would win the division or play in a tiebreaker game.

The wait wouldn’t have been very tense. The Twins scored four runs in the first inning and were leading by seven runs after the third inning en route to a 13–4 thrashing of the Royals.

Jason Kubel was the story for the Twins, hitting two three-run homers in the game.

The game Sunday in Minnesota was supposed to be the Twins last in the Metrodome. However, they will get at least one more game in the iconic stadium. The tiebreaker is set for 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. Minnesota hosts the tiebreaker after winning the season series against the Detroit.

“It’s going to be fun,” Detroit’s Curtis Granderson said. “I’m sure Minnesota is going to be rocking.”

“I guess it just says a little bit about the tenacity of this baseball team,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They keep playing until the end. The fans want a full 162-game schedule and they’re getting it.”

For Minnesota it is their second tiebreaker in as many years. Last year, they lost to the White Sox 1–0 in the tiebreaker.

The winner of the game will face the team with the best record in the Majors. The AL playoff schedule will wait on a decision by the Yankees, who have one hour after Tuesday’s tiebreaker to decide on which day they will start their playoff series.

The wild card team, Boston, with the second best record in the AL will play the Los Angeles Angels in the other series.