For six and a half innings today, Liam Hendriks and Anibal Sanchez baffled their opposition. Going into the bottom of the seventh the Twins had managed just five hits and a walk, reaching scoring position twice as Alexi Casilla stole second and then third base for his 19th and 20th swipes of the season in the fifth and then Joe Mauer advancing Ben Revere to third in the sixth. Similarly, the Tigers had managed just five hits (and two walks, one intentional), but getting shut down in spite of reaching scoring position three times.
It was in the seventh where the Twins finally drew first blood. Trevor Plouffe singled before getting lifted for Jamey Carroll as a pinch runner. Carroll would eventually score on a Pedro Florimon single to make it 1-0. Denard Span would single and Mauer would be intentionally walked to load the bases, but Phil Coke rolled over Justin Morneau to end the thread and leave the bases full.
Austin Jackson kicked off the eighth with a single, but when Jared Burton was legitimately nasty in striking out Quintin Berry Target Field responded. And when Miguel Cabrera, already 0-for-2 as Mauer's 3-for-3 had charged him to within percentage points of the lead for the AL batting title, smashed a hard liner that was caught by Florimon, an already jacked crowd was buzzing with an energy that doesn't below to a team losing 90+ games for the second season in a row. Florimon's relay to first nearly doubled off Jackson, and the home town fans were into it.
Then Burton caught too much of the plate with a first-pitch fastball. Prince Fielder's uppercut swing pushed the ball deep to left field, where it literally bounced off the top of the fence and into the seats. Ryan Doumit, who would make a great sliding catch in the ninth, lost the ball and wasn't able to make an attempt at a catch.
The bottom of the Minnesota order came alive with two outs in the bottom of the eighth but was too little, too late. Denard Span and Ben Revere lined screamers into center in the bottom of the ninth, but Jackson was there to track them both down. And there went your series.
On the plus side: Cabrera's .325 batting average isn't safe from Mauer's .323. Of course neither of them are safe from Mike Trout or Adrian Beltre, but right now all I'm cheering for is for someone to take that Triple Crown away from Miggy. Screw history, I want a fourth batting title for one of this franchise's greatest hitters ever.