162 is not enough
Well, the major league baseball pennant races turned out to be pretty much everything that we hoped they would not be as far back as five weeks ago.
With one major exception. The Detroit Tigers managed to play mediocre baseball just long enough to ensure a one-game playoff for the AL Central title on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins, who won 16 of their last 20 games over the last three weeks of the season to match the Tigers’ 86-76 overall record.
Gametime is 5:07pm (ET) on TBS.
Amazingly, this is only the ninth one-game tiebreaker in major league baseball history to decide a postseason participant, but as MLB.com points out in its review of play-in games of the past, this is actually the third straight season to require a tiebreaker. And the second straight season with an extra tilt for Minnesota.
Last season’s loss in the 163rd game to the Chicago White Sox is certain to be on the minds of the Twins when they take the field on Tuesday. In fact, the rules of the tiebreaker were actually changed after that game to negate the necessity for a coin-flip to decide home-field advantage. Head-to-head competition is now, rightfully, the deciding factor.
Minnesota was forced to travel to Chicago last season despite their victory in the head-to-head series with the White Sox and will now benefit from the rule change after taking this season’s series from the Tigers, 11-7.
After a month’s worth of mostly dull baseball, it’s a bonus to see the play-in game create some last-minute excitement. The Division Series get started on Wednesday and Thursday with the New York Yankees hosting the winner of Tuesday’s tiebreaker, and the Los Angeles Angels hosting the Boston Red Sox in the American League, while the Philadelphia Phillies welcome the Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers.
Let’s hope for some compelling storylines and great action. Tuesday’s game at the Metrodome would be a good place to start.