MLB playoffs star-studdedThe chase for the AL Central championship once again is going to extra innings. Trying to save their seasons, the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins both won Sunday, leaving them all even for the division lead and forcing a one-game tiebreaker.
By: By Ben Walker, AP Baseball Writer, The Jamestown Sun
The chase for the AL Central championship once again is going to extra innings.
Trying to save their seasons, the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins both won Sunday, leaving them all even for the division lead and forcing a one-game tiebreaker.
They’ll meet Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT at the Metrodome in what could be the final baseball game at the Homer Hankie haven. Detroit rookie Rick Porcello (14-9) will start against Scott Baker (15-9).
“It’s going to be fun. I’m sure Minnesota is going to be rocking,” Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said.
This marks the second straight year a tiebreaker will decide the AL Central. Last season, the Twins lost 1-0 at Chicago.
After Detroit beat Chicago 5-3, Minnesota downed Kansas City 13-4 to create this playoff. The Twins won 16 of their last 20, and overcame a three-game deficit by winning their last four.
“Everybody’s written us off and rightfully so,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We looked pretty ugly. But we didn’t write ourselves off and that’s all that matters.”
The teams get an extra day off — not for travel, but because Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings host Green Bay on Monday night. Because of that, the logistics could become complicated.
The New York Yankees, holding home-field advantage throughout the postseason, can choose whether they want to start the playoffs against the Twins-Tigers winner on Wednesday or Thursday. The tricky part: The Yankees get one hour after the tiebreaker to announce their decision.
That means a quick turnaround for the AL Central champ if, as expected, New York picks to play Game 1 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. EDT.
“It’s strange,” Yankees star Alex Rodriguez said. “That’s what great about baseball. Play 162 and you’re going to need one more game. That’s pretty awesome.”
Boston will open at the Los Angeles Angels in the other best-of-five AL matchup, either Wednesday or Thursday.
The National League first-rounders begin Wednesday — wild card Colorado at the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies by day, and Albert Pujols and St. Louis at Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers at night.
Ryan Howard and the East champion Phillies went 4-2 against Troy Tulowitzki and the Rockies. It’s a playoff rematch from 2007, when Colorado streaked into the playoffs and swept Philadelphia in the first round.
“They were playing so well. I don’t care who they were playing. Up to that point, no one in the NL could stop them,” Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino recalled. “They came in and walked right through us in three games.”
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel could pick Cliff Lee, who beat the Rockies shortly after being traded over from Cleveland in July, for Game 1.
“I haven’t been told for sure, other than the fact that all the games are equally important,” Lee said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity. It’s a chance for me to help a team potentially go back to back and reach the World Series.”
The Rockies trailed the Dodgers by 15½ games on June 3, a week after Jim Tracy replaced fired manager Clint Hurdle.
“When you’re in, anything can happen. I think a lot of teams proven that,” Tulowitzki said. “We proved that in ‘07 as a wild card team when we got to the World Series. You just want to get in there. Obviously it would have been nice to win the division and it would be cool to say we won the West. But we’re still in.”
While the Rockies surged into the playoffs, the Dodgers and Cardinals struggled at the end. Los Angeles ended its longest losing streak of the year at five on Saturday night by beating Colorado for the West title.
St. Louis was 5-2 against the Dodgers this season, with Chris Carpenter winning twice.
“I think we’ve lost an edge here and there, but I don’t think we’ve lost a lot of edges,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “I think we’re going to be a very difficult club to play against. But we were in position to win enough games and get home field, and you can’t just brush that aside.”
The Red Sox-Angels pairing is a familiar one — Boston eliminated the Angels three times in the first round during the previous five years. It happened the last two seasons and overall those matchups haven’t been close, with the Red Sox winning nine of 10 games.
The Angels went 5-4 against Boston this season. They met last month at Fenway Park, a series punctuated by Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia and his team getting agitated over a couple of ball-strike calls.
“I think we’re much deeper right now than we have been entering any other playoff situation than we have been since ‘02,” Scioscia said.
“What happened previously has no bearing on the matchups being created and the challenges now,” he said. “Last year, these guys got a lot of experience. Hopefully we’re going to bring our game onto the field. That’s really our first goal, play the way we can and make the other team step up and play better.”