Sep 29, 2009, 3:20 PM EDT
Ron Gardenhire did his best to over-manage the game by calling for five bunts–including a suicide squeeze that resulted in an inning-ending double play–but the Twins still prevailed in extra innings this afternoon to take Game 1 of the crucial doubleheader in Detroit.
Nick Blackburn and Rick Porcello both turned in strong starts, combining for 13.1 frames of two-run ball, but the Twins got to Brandon Lyon for a pair of 10th-inning runs in his second inning of work. That gave closer Joe Nathan a bit of breathing room and he needed it, serving up a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson before getting three straight outs for his league-leading 45th save.
Minnesota is now just one game back of Detroit in the AL Central, but the Tigers have a sizable advantage for Game 2 with ace Justin Verlander and 26-year-old rookie Brian Duensing taking the mound in less than four hours. A win by Verlander would essentially leave the Twins needing to win both of the final two games to have any sort of realistic shot at the division title.
However, if the Twins can pull off an upset victory against Verlander they’ll be tied atop the division and in the driver’s seat with Scott Baker and Carl Pavano matching up against Eddie Bonine and Nate Robertson to finish the series. As the great Ernie Banks said, let’s play two!
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