This past weekend, the Twins traveled to Detroit and things did not go well. This coming weekend, the Tigers will come to Minnesota and hopefully better results will be achieved. Either way, Twins fans will get their fill of the Motor City Kitties this week.
Ten years ago, at about this time, I attended what may have been the craziest Target Field contest I ever witnessed, also featuring the Detroit Tigers:
The night of September 2, 2010, was always going to be special for me, as it was the first time I ever attained a lower-deck ticket at the new ballpark. After months of scavenging Stub Hub sellers in the upper deck, I finally shelled out for a seat up from first base.
The pitching matchup that night was Justin Verlander versus Scott Baker and the visitors jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. But the Twins would not be stymied by Verlander this time, quickly tying things up thanks to RBI from Jose Morales.
Baker was not long for this game—leaving after just two frames for reasons I cannot recall—and in the top of the fifth a peak-form Miguel Cabrera drove in Austin Jackson to put the Tigers in front again.
Not to be deterred, the Twins opened things up in their portion of the fifth, plating three runs from Delmon Young, Danny Valencia, & Jason Repko at-bats. Despite holding a somewhat-comfortable 6-3 lead after five, things were really just getting started in this one.
After Valencia pushed the lead to 7-3, Tigers bats feasted on relievers Randy Flores and Matt Guerrier in the 8th. When the dust settled, the score was again knotted (7-7). Not to be deterred, Alexi Casilla singled off Phil Coke and Repko touched home plate with run #8.
Presumably due to closer Matt Capps having pitched on consecutive days, Ron Gardenhire turned to Jesse Crain to lock down a save. That idea last all of three pitches, upon which the not-so-friendly Casper Wells launched a game-tying home run over the RF limestone.
Still at 8-8 in the top of the 11th, Detroit went double-single-single off Brian Duensing to again jump out in front. Yet, the Twins loaded the bases and Delmon Young did the bare minimum (ground into a fielder’s choice) to score Denard Span and tie the game at nine. Unfortunately, Valencia did not provide his customary ‘10 magic that night, grounding out to end the walk-off opportunity.
After neither team did anything in the 12th, another curious move was made when Nick Blackburn trotted in from the bullpen (Gardy must have been really strapped for arms for some reason). After getting Ryan Raburn to strike out swinging, Tigers catcher Gerald Laird launched one into the bullpen from whence Blackie had just emerged. 10-9 Cats.
Sadly, there would be no further joy in Mudville that night, as Jose Valverde set down Casilla, Joe Mauer, & Michael Cuddyer on a grand total of five offerings.
After four hours and forty seven minutes of baseball, I filed out of Target Field among the other 39,550 paid attendees with one thought in mind: “Gerald Laird—really?!” (he’d slug .307 that season). Fun—though not so much at the time—fact: Laird was pinch-hitting for Detroit’s starting catcher, none other than current Twin Alex Avila.
Despite the loss, that experience is one I’ll never forget. From the lower-deck vantage point to the long, late night of baseball, I can see it in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday. Perhaps a lesson to be taken from this 2020 season: Twins losses are easier to stomach at the ballpark as opposed to on the couch or in the recliner, as is the case at the moment.