Twins closer Joe Nathan found trouble in the ninth when consecutive singles put runners at the corners, but he got a strikeout and a line-drive double play to end that threat. The four-time All-Star gave two huge pumps of his right arm as he spun to thank his defense and run to the dugout, preserving the tie.
Inge’s two-out double in the 10th gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead, but Michael Cuddyer sliced a triple past Raburn in left and scored on Matt Tolbert’s bouncing single through the middle in the bottom of the inning.
On the potential winning sacrifice fly, though, Casilla strayed a bit too far from third and was thrown out by Raburn trying to score to end the inning. The split-second Casilla needed to retouch the base might have cost him the run.
He more than made up for that mistake later.
According to sports researcher STATS LLC, only three teams since 1901 have blown a three-game lead in the standings with four games left. The Houston Astros lost three straight games to Los Angeles in 1980, but they recovered to defeat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker game for the NL West. Milwaukee lost three in a row to Baltimore in 1982 to force a tie, but beat the Orioles in the final regular season game to win the AL East.
After splitting four in Detroit last week — a loss in the series finale Thursday would’ve given the division to the Tigers — the Twins came home for the final scheduled series in the bubble needing a sweep of the Kansas City Royals and did just that.
Rookie starter Rick Porcello pitched well beyond his 20 years for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera made up for a miserable weekend — on and off the field — with a two-run homer against Scott Baker in the third inning that made it 3-0. The crowd chanted “al-co-ho-lic” right before Cabrera went deep, a rude reference to the first baseman’s fight with his wife after he came home late and drunk.
The Twins crept back, though, and Orlando Cabrera’s two-run homer in the seventh gave them a brief lead that Magglio Ordonez ended with his leadoff homer in the eighth.
“We were dead and buried a couple times, and our team just kept coming back,” Twins general manager Bill Smith said.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.