MINNESOTA 3, DETROIT 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Friday, September 18.
Batting stars: Jason Kubel was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs. Delmon Young was 2-for-4 with a double. Jose Morales was 2-for-4. Michael Cuddyer was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-seventh.
PItching stars: Brian Duensing pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and one walk and striking out one. Jon Rauch pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Rick Porcello pitched six innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out one. Curtis Granderson was 2-for-4 with a double. Marcus Thames was 2-for-4 with a double.
The game: There were no threats until the bottom of the fourth, when Kubel hit a one-out single and Cuddyer followed with a two-run homer. The Twins scored again in the sixth when Kubel led off with a double and Young scored him with a one-out double.
That was it for the scoring. The Tigers got two men on base for the first time in the seventh inning when Thames and Brandon Inge hit consecutive one-out infield singles. Jose Mijares relieved Duensing and retired the next two batters. Rauch hit a batter in the eighth but was otherwise not in trouble.
Nathan came on in the ninth and made things interesting--with two out he walked Alex Avila and gave up a double to Granderson, bringing the tying run to the plate. But Aubrey Huff hit a weak liner back to Nathan and the game belonged to the Twins.
Notes: Denard Span was in center, with Young in left and Carlos Gomez on the bench. Gomez was often in center field in 2009, with Span moving to left. Kubel, often used at DH, was in right, with Cuddyer at first base and Justin Morneau on the bench. Matt Tolbert was at third base, as Joe Crede's season had ended at this point. Nick Punto was at second base, a position he shared that year with Alexi Casilla. Jose Morales was the DH.
Gomez came in to play center in the eighth inning, with Span moving to right. Casilla pinch-ran for Kubel in the eighth.
The leading batter was Joe Mauer at .373. He would finish at .365 and win the Most Valuable Player award. Morales was batting .368. He would finish at .311, going just 5-for-32 after this game. Span was batting .307; he would finish at .311. Kubel was batting .303; he would finish at .300.
The Twins had a really good bullpen. In addition to Nathan, they had Mijares (2-2, 2.34, 1.18 WHIP), Matt Guerrier (5-1, 2.36, 0.97), and Rauch (5-1, 1.72, 1.21). Rauch, of course, didn't join the team until late August, acquired from Arizona for Kevin Mulvey.
This was a pretty big game at the time. The Twins were trying to chase down the Tigers for the division championship. As you'll recall, they went to a game 163 before finally winning the division. Our game today was the Twins' fifth consecutive win. They closed the season winning seventeen of their last twenty-one games.
Record: The Twins were 75-72, in second place in the American League Central, three games behind Detroit. They would finish 87-76, in first place, one game ahead of Detroit.
The Tigers were 78-69, in first place in the American League Central, three games ahead of Minnesota. They would finish 86-77, in second place, one game behind Minnesota.