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One-game playoff preview: Twins vs. Tigers

Oct 5, 2009, 3:32 PM EDT

Will the Twins’ dramatic late-season turnaround continue long enough for them to defeat the Tigers in a one-game playoff tomorrow and then make some noise in the playoffs for the first time since 2002?
Who knows. Minnesota’s one-game playoff against Chicago last year ended in disappointment and the Twins’ last furious late-season comeback against Detroit merely led to being swept out of the postseason.
However, unlike last season tomorrow afternoon’s one-game playoff is in Minnesota and the Twins are clearly the favorites with Scott Baker facing Rick Porcello at the Metrodome.
All of which isn’t to suggest that Porcello is a pushover. He may be a 20-year-old rookie, but he’s turned in one of the best seasons of all time for a 20-year-old pitcher and has shown no signs of slowing down thanks to the Tigers smartly limiting his workload for most of the year. Porcello is 5-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 12 starts since August 1, including 6.1 innings of one-run ball versus the Twins last week.
He doesn’t miss many bats with just 81 strikeouts in 165 innings and subsequently has allowed a .270 opponents’ batting average, but makes up for it by inducing the most ground balls in the league. Don’t expect the Twins to do much power hitting, but they’ll have some chances to string hits together and Porcello’s modest workloads should mean several innings from the Tigers’ often shaky bullpen.
And of course the guy taking the mound for the Twins is pretty good too. Baker got off to a terrible start, beginning the season on the disabled list before going 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA and eight homers allowed through four outings. However, since then he’s 15-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 28 starts, including five innings of one-run ball versus Detroit last week. Nick Blackburn has thrived in big-game situations, but Baker has been the Twins’ best starting pitcher over the past two years.
While the Twins were going 16-4 without Justin Morneau and 30-14 since mid-August, the Tigers went 11-15 after extending their lead to a season-high seven games in early September. They’re also just 36-46 on the road, while the Twins are 47-33 at home, and as we saw (and heard) yesterday the Metrodome isn’t going quietly. All of which means surprisingly little, because anything can happen in one game for everything. Hell, as this weekend and the past month or so have shown, anything can happen, period.
What we do know is that the Twins are playing at home with their best starter on the mound as slight favorites for a spot in the playoffs, where the slate is wiped clean, 11 wins equals a championship, and flaws and injuries give way to luck and small-sample-size heroics. By tomorrow night the Twins and Tigers will be either finished playing until next spring or heading to New York for a first-round matchup against the Yankees. And for the first time all season the latter possibility is actually more likely for Minnesota.

  1. PimP JuicE MaN - Oct 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM

    WHY DOES IT MATTER, EVERYONE WILL GET SPANKED BY THE YANKEES, I HOPE THEY PLAY PHILLY IN THE WORLD SERIES JUST TO SMACK THEM DOWN TO SIZE.PHILLY SHOULD KNOW NEW YORK WILL BUST THEIR BUTT TOO.
    BUH BYE

  2. Adam - Oct 5, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    You sir, are an idiot. Check the history books to see if a the team with the fewest wins of any playoff team has ever gone on to win the World Series. The St Louis Cardinals would say it can be done. The 1987 Twins would agree as well. Anything can happen in the playoffs PimP JuicE MaN.

  3. Scary Haircut Guy - Oct 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM

    I hope the yankers walk into the playoffs as haughty and full of guile as you are and get knocked out in the first round. There’s nowhere for those overpaid panty-wastes in pinstripes to go but down.

  4. Grant - Oct 5, 2009 at 4:50 PM

    Don’t feed the troll.

  5. Corey - Oct 5, 2009 at 7:54 PM

    I don’t know if the Tigers even deserve to hold on to the AL Central, given that they had numerous chances to lock it up weeks ago, yet couldn’t get it done. The Twins quietly kept pace, now they have a shot at toppling the Tigers @ the Metrodome…could it be the 1987 ALCS revisted perhaps? A favoured Tigers team bowing to a seemingly inferior Twins squad? The pitching matchup looks pretty even, now let’s see what happens on Tuesday.
    As for the Yankees, well…they just might squash either team anyway. But that’s why they play the games…anything is possible.

  6. Jon - Oct 6, 2009 at 9:19 AM

    So the Yankees are invincible? Ask them to show you their World Championship rings from 2004….

  7. John - Oct 6, 2009 at 9:50 AM

    Idiot Yankee fans always have to comment about their overpaid team on every single baseball post unrelated to them. I wouldn’t want to face the Twins right now i.e Colorado in 2007. I like the Twins in this game and hell even this month. They went 0-7 against the overpaids during the regular season. I don’t think they are going to finish 0-10.

  8. Michael B Pasternack - Oct 6, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    As a Yankee fan I don’t assume will “Walk” through the playoffs,but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to be there. I am not a fan of the 5 game series. I think all the playoff games should be 7 games. Many a mediocre team with 2 great starters have gotten their team into the “Big One” only to be exposed to the teams inadequate performance in the World Series. Hate the Yankees all you want but the facts are that they have great hitters from 1 to 9 and the best closer in baseball. That doesn’t mean they will win the World Series, but demeaning them for putting up a great lineup is silly.

  9. OkStateRangerfan - Oct 6, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    Not really a fan of either team, but I really like both managers. Looking forward to this game, though. I think both pitchers will perform well, though I hope Baker comes through since he pitched at my alma mater while I was there and I have followed him closely since. Nothing better than October baseball!

  10. jdeed - Oct 6, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    Yeah the more I think about it the yankees have nothing to brag about.
    All that money, All those ‘great’ players and they dont win it every year.
    If they do win its not because they faced superior opponents and over came.
    Its because they did what any team with the so called best and highest paid players in baseball should do.
    Not very impressive if you ask me.
    Now if the Tigers or Twins should happen to win it ;) that would be something.

  11. Chris B. - Oct 6, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    Anyone with the word “PimP” in their name either hasn’t started puberty yet or is developmentally disabled. In either case, I’m not putting any merit in what “Pimpy Juice Fingers” has to say. Boston Red Sox will beat the Yankees in six and, if they don’t get the chance, the Angels will beat the Yankees in Seven.

  12. planktonDisciple - Oct 6, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    Yanks won the div from 2001-2007. Guess what? NO RINGS. Most of the Yanks usually under perform in the postseason. CC’s postseason era is 7.92. Yanks are no lock this year either as Pettite, Rivera and Jeter are the only proven reliable postseason players on the roster.

  13. Jamo66 - Oct 6, 2009 at 2:53 PM

    Don’t underestimate the power of the HHH Metrodome. I’d say that playing at the dome gives the Twins more of an edge than pitching Scott Baker.

  14. Raphael - Oct 6, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the intrigue of a potential Yanks-Dodgers World Series. Wouldn’t it be great if Torre managed against the Yanks (and the Steinbrenner boys)? Just a thought.

  15. John Sanders - Oct 6, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Great points Adam. On the flip side, you might also want to ask the 116-win Seattle Mariners of 2001 whether having the best regular season record guarantees a world series win.

  16. jay - Oct 6, 2009 at 3:52 PM

    Since King George put the stamp on the team that its a WS win or nothing, Its going to be a west coast series Dodger Blue and Angel Red…………

  17. KateC - Oct 6, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    I think the Twins will be missing the Dome…..the fans do alot for those teams!!! Never count the fans out as they have alot to do with their Minnesota teams!

  18. chris - Oct 6, 2009 at 4:28 PM

    Hey now,
    PimpJuice just wants to talk shit and has decided to jump the band wagon in New York. He doesnt really like baseball, but he loves being with the winners.
    Lets let him talk shit and provide his juvinille insight on baseball. Its quite entertaining how someone can ride a bandwagon and believe they already know who the winner will be.
    Remember PimpJuice, there will be many bandwagons for you to jump on to in your life, so make sure you take sit in the back seat because the fire exit will be more accessable when this 215 million dollar wagon goes up in flames.

  19. Doby - Oct 6, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    The Metrodome has way more effect on the outcome of this game than the pitching of either team. 50,000+ fans INSIDE for a baseball game is a lot of people. I remember football games at the Silverdome with about that many people, and it was almost painfully loud at times. The twins have a home field advantage unlike any other in baseball. If they play like they did against KC last weekend, the Tigers are done, end of story. I’ll be sad to see my Tigers out of the playoffs, and be pissed they lost the division they’ve lead since May 10th, but the Twins are playing out of their minds; they are a team possessed right now.

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