Tigers 1, Twins 0: Threepeat! Max Scherzer pitches Tigers to third straight Central divison title

Hannah Foslien

Max Scherzer and the bullpen made Torii Hunter's first inning RBI hold up, shutting out the Twins to clinch a third straight Central division title. The victory was Jim Leyland's 700th with Tigers, joining Sparky Anderson and Hughie Jennings as the only managers to reach the mark.


Final - 9.25.2013 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 0
Minnesota Twins 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
WP: Max Scherzer (21 - 3)
SV: Joaquin Benoit (24)
LP: Kevin Correia (9 - 13)

Complete Coverage >


Max Scherzer pitched the Detroit Tigers to a Central division title, winning his 21st game of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers clinched the division crown for third straight year with three games remaining in the season.

Scherzer made his final statement in the race for the Cy Young award a fine one, shutting out the Twins on just two hits over seven innings, striking out ten. Joaquin Benoit, asked to pitch in three consecutive games for the first time this season, set the Twins down in order to earn his 24th save.

Kevin Correia was the hard luck loser for the Twins, pitching almost as well as Scherzer. Correia allowed a run just two batters into the first inning, then shut out the Tigers for the next seven innings. The Twins' bullpen tossed two shutout innings, but a lack of run support doomed them to watch the Tigers celebrate their division title at Target Field.

The Tigers out hit the Twins 8-3, but all the offense they would need (and all they would get) came before anyone was out in the top of the first. Austin Jackson led off the game with a triple, riding home on Torii Hunter's RBI single. And that was it for either side. Jackson and Hunter were the only players on either side with two hits.

Post game, Jim Leyland choked back tears thanking his players and the fans, then was swept up by Hunter and carried off to the team celebration.

Leyland_medium

Leyland_medium

Next stop for the Tigers? The ALDS, which starts next Friday.

When Tigers at Twins started, the Indians were up on the White Sox 2-1 in the fourth inning. Knowing they weren't likely to get any help in lowering their Magic Number to zero, the Tigers went right to work against Twins' starter Kevin Corriera.

Austin Jackson smoked Corriera's chest high fastball to the opposite field, sending a fly ball over the head of Chris Herrmann in right center for a lead off triple. The ball took one hop off the wall and back over Herrmann's head, allowing Jackson to reach third standing up.

Torii Hunter quickly gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead, bouncing an RBI single to center. But Miguel Cabrera bounced into a double play, nipping any further scoring in the bud. That would also be it for the Tigers' offense ... for the remainder of the game.

Tigers' starter Max Scherzer spent the first inning battling with his command, forced to battle from behind in the count against all five Twins he faced. Scherzer walked Brain Dozier with one out, wild pitching him to second. Ryan Doumit drew a base on balls with two down. Dozier proceeded to steal third before Scherzer finally got out of the inning by striking out Josmil Pinto.

Thought he struck out a pair, Scherzer needed 24 pitches to get through the first. Alarmingly, only ten were for strikes.

As the Tigers batted in the second, the Indians were pulling away from the Washington Generals ... uh, rather, the White Sox, leading 4-1 in the fifth. If the Tigers were going to clinch tonight, they would have to do it via a victory in Minnesota.

Whatever had ailed Scherzer in the first inning had been fixed. Top of the second, he struck out the side in order, needing a mere 13 pitches.

While the Tigers were doing little against Corriera, the Twins were doing even less facing Scherzer. Bottom of the third, Scherzer recorded his sixth strikeout while setting the side down in order.

Bottom of four, two out Pinto on base via a walk and just as you were starting to think "no-hitter," a Twin reached on a Twins Hit. A fooled Chris Parmelee's swinging bunt couldn't have been placed better if he tried. By the time Scherzer got to the dribbler and turned to throw, he realized it would futile. Rather than risk a bad throw, Scherzer decided discretion was the better part of valor, and held on to the ball.

A runner now in scoring position, Scherzer ended the threat when Chris Herrmann popped up to end the inning. The no-hitter may have gone bye-bye, but Scherzer and the Tigers still held something more important - a 1-0 lead.

Through five innings, Correia had scattered five hits, having allowed just the first inning run.  Obviously, everyone was asking the same question of the Tigers' offense:

My guess? To the same mysterious place where Cabrera's health went.

Scherzer gave up his second infield hit of the night with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Pedro Florimon hit a hard one-hopper Omar Infante was able to knock down, but could not make a play. Florimon proceeded the steal the second base of the game for the Twins as Alex Presley was walking on four pitches.

Scherzer pushing 90 pitches at htis point, so of course he went to a full count on Dozier. Though Scherzer had been collecting strikeouts by the bushel basket. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire started the runners.

His worst case scenatio came to fruition.

Dozier struck out, Avila's throw was on the money to Cabrera, nailing Florimon to complete the huge strike 'em out, throw 'em out Twin killing.

As good as Scherzer had been, his pitch count was becoming an issue. At 91 through five, he wasn't going any deeper than the seventh inning, if that. Jim Leyland had a short bullpen, Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque were unavailable, and he did not want to use Joaquin Benoit if at all possible.

Meanwhile, the Tigers were making Correia look like a Cy Young candidate. Ironically, Hunter reached base via a Twins hit, his dribbler nicking the third base bag with two out in the sixth. But he would be, as had every other base runner after Jackson in the first, be stranded.

In the sixth, Scherzer was back to battling his command. One down in the bottom half of the inning, he issued a season high fifth walk walk to Doumit. The bullpen not yet stirring, Scherzer retired the next two Twins, collecting his tenth strikeout in the process.

At this point the score became official in Cleveland. The Indians had knocked off Chicago's Little Sisters of the Poor 7-2, eliminating the Yankees from the post season (YAY!). If the Tigers were going to clinch tonight, scoring a few more runs would make it a bit easier.

On second thought, who needs runs?

Before the start of the seventh inning Hunter attempted to rally the troops, calling an impromptu dugout huddle.

Huddle_1_medium

Huddle_2_medium

Didn't work.

Martinez led off the seventh by singling to the left side. But Leyland called for an ill-advised hit and run with someone who has trouble hitting and someone else who can't run. Andy Dirks swung and missed, leaving Martinez as a dead DH running. Correia would get out of the inning from there.

Scherzer entered the seventh with a pitch count of 108, the bullpen officially on alert. A wild Scherzer opened the inning by issuing his sixth walk of the night, Herrmann getting a free pass. The Twins were doing what the Twins do, play for one run. Darin Mastroianni gave the Tigers a free out, laying down a sacrifice bunt, moving Herrmann into scoring position.

Didn't work.

Scherzer ended the inning and completed his regular season by stranding Herrman, both Florimon and Presley flying out to Dirks.

Scherzer had battled through seven full innings, posting season highs in walks (six) and pitches (123). But he had also shutout the Twins on just two hits, putting the Tigers just six outs away from clinching the Central.

Top of eight, Grandenhire replaced his starter with lefty reliever Brian Duensing, who retired the first two Tigers he faced. The top of the order due up, Duensing was replaced by right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Jackson greeted him by doubling into the right field corner, the first Tiger to reach scoring position since some guy named Jackson did so in the first.

Hunter couldn't get the RBI base knock, ending the inning on a slow roller to short. Another frustrating inning in the books, the Tigers still clinging to their 1-0 lead.

Bottom of the eighth, Leyland called on the goat of Monday's loss, Jose Veras. Which meant Leyland would use Benoit in the ninth after all. Dozier led off with a drive to deep right center, looking like a two base hit when it left his bat. But Jackson covered a ton of ground, making the catch on the warning track.

WHEW.

The Tigers missed Jose  Iglesias' defense (still out with a bruised hand) on the play which followed, Plouffe's slow roller. Santiago charged, had trouble transferring the ball from glove to hand, double clutched and capped things off by pulling Fielder off the bag with his throw. It all added up to an infield single on a play Iglesias likely makes.

Veras was pulled for Drew Smyly, who was called on to turn the switch-hitting Doumit around (hitting just .225 as a lefty). We got a Smyly finger point when Doumit popped up to second for the second out.  Smyly faced another right-hander hitter in Pinto (this one with reverse splits), eating up the Twins' rookie catcher by striking him out on three pitches.

The Tigers were now just three outs away from clinching a spot in the ALDS.

The parade of Twins relievers continued in the ninth. Swarzak retired Cabrera on a warning track fly to deep right (a ball Cabrera hits out if he had use of his legs). Gardenhire went back to the pen for Casey Thielbar, setting down Fielder on a fly ball and Martinez via a K, ending the inning.

Unable to tack on an insurance run (or a run of any kind since two batters into the first inning), Benoit was called on to pitch the Tigers to a division title without a safety net. It would also be the first time this season Benoit would throw in three consecutive games.

Leyland did make two moves defensively. In his first appearance since being hit by a pitch last Thursday, Iglesias took over at short. Santiago slid over to third base, Cabrera taking a seat on the pine.

Benoit went to a full count on Parmelee, but avoided the dreaded lead off walk when the Twins' first baseman flew out to medium center.

Herrmann was out number two, swinging through a 95 MPH fastball, the 12th Twins K of the game.

It was down to Josh Willingham. The chase for the division title came to an end at 11:20 PM eastern time, Willingham striking out on a Benoit breaking ball.

GAME OVER! DIVISION WON!

You final score is Tigers 1, Twins 0. The Magic Number no longer matters.

The 2013 Detroit Tigers are your Central Division champions for a third straight year!

Party_medium

The Tigers clinch the Central division with a 93-66 record, holding a 4 1/2 game lead over the Indians with just three games remaining. The Tigers may have been frustrating as of late, but they closed out the division in fine fashion, an 11-4 record over their last 15 games.

The Tigers are off on Thursday, headed to Miami for the final three games of the regular season with the worst team in the NL, the 58-100 Marlins. It'll be a homecoming of sorts for former Marlins Anibal Sanchez, Miguel Cabrera and of course, Jim Leyland.

Probable pitchers:

Game 160, 7:10 PM: Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.38 ERA) vs. Tom Koehler (4-10, 4.45 ERA)

Game 161, 7:10 PM:  Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.64 ERA) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.50 ERA)

Game 162, 1:10 PM: Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.56 ERA) vs. Henderson Alvarez (4-6, 3.94 ERA)

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

While the Tigers were taking on the Twins, the easily offended Braves were defending baseball from the Brewers' Carlos Gomez and unwritten rules breaking.

Apparently the Braves have designated themselves baseball's official arbiters of unwritten rules and how said rules can and cannot be broken. If I'm playing in the NL, I make sure I chat with Brian McCann to make sure just how I should act after every home run.

Miguel Cabrera does not look good running . Actually, you can't even call it running. Either way, when Canrera hits a ground ball to an infielder, they have plenty of time on their hands.

Brian Dozier also had time to take a selfie and break several unwritten rules only the Braves know about.

The Tribe are on a mad run to the wild card, but still can't sell out.

Of course, the laughable attendance had Tigers fans calling them out.

With 13 strikeouts tonight, the Tigers just eight punchouts away from breaking the the Cubs' 2003 MLB record of 1,404.

When asked about the seventh inning huddle, Torii Hunter confirmed it was an attempt to get the offense fired up. He also added:

"We're Central Division Champs!  Michigan, be ready for us boy!"

Moonwalking Jim Leyand made an appearance!

Fire Leyland, my ass.

FOUR ROARS:

Max Scherzer: Won his 21st game of the season, capping a Cy Young worthy year.

Drew Smyly: Entered the game in the eighth with one out and one on. Smyly made it look easy, recording the final two outs of the inning to set up Joaquin Benoit.

Austin Jackson: The Tigers go as Jackson goes. A double, triple and a fine running catch for the Tigers' trigger man.

Torii Hunter: Seems fitting the most vocal Tiger and team leader drives in the division clinching run.

BONUS ROAR:

Jim Leyland: We may not always agree with his decisions, but Leyland is a huge reason why we're in midst of a golden era of Tigers baseball.

THREE HISSES:

The Twins: I hate the Twins. Celebrating in Minnesota is a tiny bit of revenge for all the BS the Twinkies put the Tigers' through from 1987 on.

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 1,203
Total commenters 53
Commenter list Alex Baker, Allison Hagen, Avid Reader, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, Fielder'sChoice, FrogTownFan, GVLaker09, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Joaquin on Sunshine, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, Muttcutts, NCDee, NorthLeft12, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, SanDiegoMick, Scherzerblueeye, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, Starsailor, TN Ben, Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Verlanderful, aelix, ahtrap, akadwriter, beelze, bowling255, dishnet34, fiendishdr.wu, frisbeepilot, josejose50, kirdo, kland83, knucklescarbone, rbbaker, rea, rock n rye, stevenyc, swish330, tealy213, texastigerfan, thesiberian
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/25/4770080/game-159-tigers-at-twins-8-10-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/9/25/4771860/game-159-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

1 SanDiegoMick 77
2 Scherzerblueeye 73
3 stevenyc 71
4 Joaquin on Sunshine 69
5 J_the_Man 64
6 SpartanHT 63
7 Tigerdog1 59
8 Jacob30 46
9 frisbeepilot 46
10 FrogTownFan 44

TOP RECS:

12 NCDee Sparkling Cider for Everyone!!!
7 Tigerdog1 Here's the magic number--- wait!
7 rock n rye Looks like everthing is going
6 Emil Sitka TIGERS WIN!!! TIME TO PARTY!!!!
6 GVLaker09 Woooooo!
6 stevenyc [no title]
6 GVLaker09 Back-to-back-to-back!
5 Jacob30 [no title]
4 rbbaker [no title]
4 SpartanHT This my 25,000th comment guys
4 SpartanHT MERRY CLINCHMAS MOVIE HOUSE!!!!
3 Joaquin on Sunshine THREE TIME A.L. CENTRAL CHAMPIONS!!!!!!

GAME 158 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Bruce Rondon hadn't pitched in over three weeks due to a tender elbow. The fire-balling rookie made a very impressive return, pitching in 8th inning setup duty. His fastball topping 100 MPH, Rondon struck out the side on just ten pitches. Rondon's performance put him over the top in the PotG poll, out polling Doug Fister's quality start 40%-34%.

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