It wasn't another 1-0, eight-inning duel, but Jeremy Bonderman and Scott Baker fought each other hard once again for 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs apiece. After pitching to a standstill, each starting pitcher ceded to his respective bullpen. And given the performance of each team's relief corps this season, you might have been inclined to figure the Twins would take the game from there.
You would've been wrong.
Once again, if you think Detroit doesn't need to upgrade their bullpen, you have another game to back up that argument. The Tigers' trio of Bobby Seay, Zach Miner, and Todd Jones kept the game tied for the final three innings of the game, besting the Twins' quartet of Matt Guerrier, Dennys Reyes, Pat Neshek, and Joe Nathan. And in the end, Nathan - who hadn't given up a run in his last eight outings - couldn't keep Detroit's lineup from breaking through.
Pitching your closer for more than an inning during the regular season is dancing with danger, but it indicates how badly Ron Gardenhire wanted this game. Not just because of the difference in the standings, but the sheer need to show the division leader that you can hang with them - a position the Tigers found themselves in with Cleveland at the beginning of July.
Did the Tigers shut the door on Minnesota in the AL Central and Wild Race? Maybe this three-game sweep should tell me otherwise, but I'd be surprised if the Twins didn't stay in the race with the pitching they have.
And what if they get a bat? How much of a difference would some middle-of-the-order pop (right-handed, especially) have made in this series? Maybe the Twins would be relishing a sweep tonight. Or at the very least, they may have snagged one or two wins. It's crazy that they scored more runs today with two of their top hitters out of the lineup. If Minnesota can swing a deal for someone like Dmitri Young or Garrett Atkins, they become a much more dangerous team.
But right now, the Tigers are the team everyone else needs to look out for. Sweeping a series at the Metrodome? Are you kidding? That place has been a nightmare. And it may have been that past, so fresh in Detroit's memory, that pushed them through each of these games. If Jim Leyland needed to compose a motivational speech, it probably nearly wrote itself. These are the guys who beat you out for the division last year. Maybe that was a better Twins team, but this was still damn sweet.