The tragic number is still 2. The magic number is 2.
The Twins are 85-76, and the Tigers are 85-76. One game to go.
This is a better race than the 2006 one — not because the teams are better, but because they aren't. In 2006, the loser still made the playoff field — and wound up in the World Series. This year the loser gets to go home and sulk.
Ron Gardenhire is going with Carl Pavano on short rest today against the Royals rather than Brian Duensing. I'd rather go with Duensing, but what do I know? Gardy's spent the last three weeks or so making right move after right move, many of which I doubted at the time.
He decided to install Matt Tolbert at third base. And Tolbert hit .333 — and slugged .444 — in September. (Just to put it in context: Joe Crede's slugging percentage this year was .414).
He embedded Delmon Young and Jason Kubel in the outfield corners, had Michael Cuddyer fill in at first base for the injured Justin Morneau, rode Nick Punto at second base, turned the DH job over to a platoon of Jose Morales and Brendan Harris — and relegated Alexi Casilla and Carlos Gomez to reserve roles.
Young hit .309 last month and has eight RBIs in the last two games. Punto hit .292 in September and, more important, had a .407 OBP. And Cuddyer has not only hammered the ball at the plate, he has played smoothly at first.
The Dome will be rocking today.
And in Detroit ... well, one ought not put too much weight on Web site commenters, but these fans seem pretty down on the Tigs.