History favors the Twins on Tuesday

BY foxsports • October 5, 2009

They were the hotter team. They were playing at home. And so it wasn't a surprise when the Colorado Rockies won the one-game playoff for the National League wild card in 2007, even though it took 13 innings.

Sudden-death drama


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So, what was more important — that the San Diego Padres had to travel to Coors Field, or that the Rockies had won 13 of their previous 14 games?

"I believe both factored in heavily," Dan O'Dowd, the Colorado general manager, recalled Sunday night. "We were on an historic run, but I am not sure how it might have played out if we went on the road.

"It was a very electric, emotional atmosphere. Our players fed off of that."

The Chicago White Sox hosted the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff last year. The home team won then, too.

In fact, of the five one-game playoffs in the Wild Card Era, the hosts have won four. And that suggests the Minnesota Twins are well-positioned to beat the Tigers on Tuesday and win the American League Central title.

The game will be played at the Metrodome, which welcomed howling crowds of 40,223, 48,644 and 51,155 during the recently-completed weekend sweep of the Kansas City Royals.

The Twins' 13-4 victory on Sunday was supposed to serve as the sendoff for indoor baseball in Minnesota. Not anymore. There will be diamond dust on the fake grass for at least one more tympanum-rattling day.

"I'm sure most people don't give us much of a chance," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "But we'll see."

"Might want to put your earplugs in," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "I can remember days when I was catching — the helmet would ring your ears, the echoes were so loud."

There are series in the regular season and series in the postseason. But Tuesday's game will stand alone. The pitching probables will show two names only. It's the one event on the baseball calendar with football-style importance: single game, single elimination.

"One game," Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander said Sunday, after winning his 19th game of the year. "You can't think about what could have been, what happened. You have to think about what will be."

Both teams have reason to be confident. With the Twins, it's easier to see why. They are 48-33 at home this year, including 7-2 against the Tigers. They closed the season on a 16-4 run. Detroit was a modest 10-10.

But the Tigers were impressively loose on Sunday morning and clearly relieved by the afternoon. After leading the division by seven games on Sept. 6, they didn't complete a collapse at home. Detroit fans cheered enthusiastically after the game, thanking players for their efforts during the year.

If we're looking for historical comparisons to Tuesday's matchup, the most apt might be the 1995 American League West playoff between the Seattle Mariners and California Angels.

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