Twins Catch Tigers in the AL Central

Friday, September 29th 2006, 8:58 am
By: News On 6

The Minnesota Twins' latest win had a postseason feel and moved them a little closer to a better position for the playoffs. A dramatic 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night lifted the Twins into a tie for first place in the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers.

The latest win started with the impressive return of Brad Radke, was extended with a two-out homer in the ninth inning by Joe Mauer and ended with Jason Bartlett's long single with the bases loaded in the 10th.

``I'm amazed at what happened out there,'' said Radke, who worked five innings after missing the last month with shoulder problems. ``When Joe hit that home run, it felt like the seventh game of the World Series.''

The Tigers, who lost 8-6 to Toronto on Thursday, hold the tiebreaker over the Twins by winning the season series 11-8.

Detroit hosts the Royals for its final three games, while Minnesota is home for the final three against the Chicago White Sox.

Not a bad scenario for the Twins, who were 12 games back and in fourth place as late as July 15.

``Who would have thought?'' Mauer asked.

Probably not the Tigers, who led the division by 10 games before play on Aug. 8. Their first postseason appearance since 1987 can be even better with a division title _ and home field in the first round _ instead of wild-card status.

``I'm not going to give them a Knute Rockne, let's go get 'em type of thing. I can tell you that right now,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``If we win three games, we're the champs. That's one break we've got. If we can't take advantage of it, shame on us.''

In other AL games on Thursday, it was: Baltimore 7, New York 1; Los Angeles 2, Oakland 0; and Cleveland 5, Tampa Bay 4.

The 33-year-old Radke, who has said he plans to retire after the season, needed only 57 pitches to get through five innings. He gave up three hits and an unearned run that scored on a double by Paul Phillips in the second.

Radke, who had a torn labrum and a stress fracture that was later found in his throwing shoulder, left his last start, Aug. 25 at Chicago, after only two innings.

``You see a lot of things in this game as a manager, coach and player, but watching him go to the mound and be able to throw the ball like that was pretty special,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Radke fought tears and turned away when talking about his return got too tough.

``I'm at a loss for words right now,'' he said, his eyes moistening.

Joe Nathan (7-0) pitched the 10th for the win.

Mauer's home run was off Joe Nelson, his first blown save in 10 chances.

Justin Morneau started the 10th with a single off Scott Dohmann (1-3). One out later, Rondell White singled and Morneau went to third. After an intentional walk, Bartlett's hit _ ruled a single _ bounced over the fence in center field at the Metrodome.

Kansas City (59-100) became the 11th team in major league history to lose 100 games for a third straight year.

``A lot out of those have been one-run games that didn't go our way,'' said Luke Hudson, who scattered four singles over seven innings. ``We weren't always getting pounded. We would come up one run short. It has happened several times.''

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 6

At Detroit, Toronto built a 7-0 lead against Kenny Rogers and then held on.

Rogers, who likely will start Detroit's first playoff game, gave up seven runs _ five earned _ and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings. The 41-year-old Rogers (17-7) won seven of his previous 10 starts with a 1.72 ERA.

The Tigers pulled within 7-6 with a three-run seventh, capped by Sean Casey's two-run homer.

A.J. Burnett (10-8) allowed five runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings. B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 37th save.

Orioles 7, Yankees 1

Daniel Cabrera came within two outs of Baltimore's first no-hitter in 15 years, but Robinson Cano slapped a clean opposite-field single to break it up.

Cabrera (9-10) struck out five and walked two, throwing 71 of his 106 pitches for strikes.

Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer off Darrell Rasner (3-1) and a solo shot for the visiting Orioles.

Angels 2, Athletics 0

John Lackey (13-11) allowed four hits without a walk over eight innings and had a career-high 11 strikeouts for host Los Angeles.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 46th save, tying the Angels' record set by Bryan Harvey in 1991.

Juan Rivera broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the sixth against Barry Zito (16-10), who allowed a run and seven hits over six innings.

Indians 5, Devil Rays 4

Ryan Garko doubled home the go-ahead run in a three-run seventh inning as Cleveland rallied for the win. Grady Sizemore and Andy Marte hit two-run homers and Paul Byrd (10-9) won for the first time in five September starts.

Greg Norton hit a two-run homer, his 16th, for Tampa Bay, which dropped to 3-28 on the road since the All-Star break.