One year ago Wednesday, The Tigers and Twins were down to a one-game battle to try to get into the postseason, and needed extra innings to do it. The ramifications of that AL Central tiebreaker still linger with the two clubs today. The Twins are building on a potential division dynasty, now coming into the AL Division Series against the Yankees. The Tigers are still building to try to get back.
Two guys in Minneapolis right now to try to beat the Twins in the postseason Wednesday night know that pretty well. That tiebreaker loss on the other side of downtown at the Metrodome was the final game in a Tigers uniform for Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames.
“I think it’s arguably one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” Granderson said Tuesday, “even though we came up on the losing side of things. But the ups and downs, the back and forths, the long innings in that game, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world.
“I certainly hope we don’t have that for all five games here. It’s going to be a real long series [if we do]. But to be in a situation and have a chance, that’s exactly where you want to be, and I think that’s where both teams are right at this point right now.”
By both teams, he meant the Twins and Yankees, of course. While Granderson went to New York in the Austin Jackson trade last December, Marcus Thames signed as a free agent after Detroit released him.
Thames did not play in the tiebreaker loss, or in any of the final three scheduled regular season games that led into it. The fact that he didn’t start in the tiebreaker despite his success off starter Scott Baker (8-for-26 at the time wth four home runs and six RBIs) lingered with him. He’s moved on, but he still hasn’t forgotten it. Thames did face Baker in his final game as a Tiger, but it was five days earlier at Comerica Park, where he went 1-for-2 with a single and a hit-by-pitch.
“I was a little upset I didn’t get to play in that last game,” Thames said. “With my career numbers off Baker, it didn’t sit too well in my stomach. But I was a team guy. I sat up there and rooted for the team. But it’s a whole different story. I turned that page when it was over, and I’m ready to chip in and contribute with the Yankees. Being able to face these guys pretty much through my career, I pretty much know how they’re going to try to pitch me and stuff. So I get a chance to go out and compete.”