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Game 163: Tigers at Twins

Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.04) vs. Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36), 5:07 p.m. EST

Writing this in the regular GameThread format doesn't quite feel right, does it? After all, this is hardly just another game on the schedule. But the number "163" is a pretty big indicator. The regular season just could not contain this AL Central race.

And so, just when you thought the Tigers were out of the Metrodome, a first-place tie pulls them back in. But isn't this the way it should be?

Sure, Detroit should've won the AL Central when it was fully in its grasp. Their stumble (along with the Twins' red-hot surge) has brought the season to this point. But every hero needs a villain. And to finish the story, the arch-enemy must be vanquished. Has there been any greater adversary to the Tigers this season than these pesky, never-say-die Minnesota Twins?

This is the stuff of mythology, man. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? How about doing what should've been done last Thursday at Comerica Park?

You know all about Scott Baker. You've seen him pitch against the Tigers enough now, including last Thursday. Never mind that Detroit's lineup once again played like squanderers. Baker held the Tigers to just one run over five innings, so it probably means he's going to do it again, right? Right? He's the Twins' best starting pitcher!

What? The Tigers' season comes down to their rookie starter? Hey, Rick Porcello isn't a rookie anymore. The kid has pitched in 30 major league games now. His shoulders are plenty strong for this. Kid Rick has been Detroit's second-best starting pitcher since late August. And he's not afraid of these Minnesota Twins. Just look at his last two starts against them.

Ryan Raburn is in the lineup today, starting in left field and batting sixth. Carlos Guillen is the designated hitter, while Ramon Santiago gets the nod at shortstop. And Denard Span's quote about the Tigers' choking is on the clubhouse wall:

"I don't want to say they've choked, but, yeah, they have choked," Span said. "They've choked a little bit, but they have the opportunity to not choke, I guess."

Twinkie Town has your SB Nation opposing view for this one-game tiebreaker for the AL Central championship.