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October 8, 2009

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Twins triumph in AL Central

ALEXI Casilla singled home the winning run with one out in the 12th inning as the Minnesota Twins rallied past Detroit 6-5 in the American League Central tiebreaker on Tuesday in Minneapolis, as the Tigers completed a colossal collapse.

The Tigers became the first team in major league history to blow a three-game lead with four games left. The Twins overcame a seven-game gap in the final month, went 17-4 to pull even on the final weekend and emerged with their fifth division title in eight years.

Baseball's only real pennant race this season needed an extra game, and extra innings to finish off a thriller that got better with every pitch.

Both teams had their chances to end it earlier, and each club scored in the 10th. Casilla was thrown out at the plate to end that inning by left fielder Ryan Raburn after tagging up.

Detroit thought it had taken the lead in the 11th. But with the bases loaded, plate umpire Randy Marsh ruled that Brandon Inge was not hit by a pitch by Bobby Keppel. The replay appeared to show the pitch grazing Inge's billowing uniform.

As Carlos Gomez streaked home from second with the winning run -- well ahead of a late throw from right field -- Homer Hankies spiraled around the Metrodome. The Twins celebrated and also started to scramble -- they had 21 hours to get ready for Game 1 of the AL playoffs at Yankee Stadium against New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

"This is the most unbelievable game I've ever played or seen," Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera said.

Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer, one of the leading contenders for American League MVP honors, slapped high-fives with fans as he circled the stadium with teammates.

"Unbelievable," said Mauer. "That was one of the best games I've ever played in. Detroit doesn't have to put their heads down."

The other American League playoff series sees the Boston Red Sox versus the Los Angeles Angels.

The National League playoffs begin with the Colorado Rockies playing the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies, while the Los Angeles Dodgers host the St Louis Cardinals.


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