Baseball

One-game playoff becoming habit for Twins

The Minnesota Twins seem to think that 162 regular-season games aren't enough.

The Twins will play host to the Detroit Tigers today in a tiebreaker for the American League Central title and a trip the playoffs. It is the second straight season the Twins have needed a 163rd game to finish the season, a first in league history.

One year after losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in Chicago to the White Sox in a one-game playoff, the Twins will get the home advantage this time around as they look to cap their remarkable September rally.

“It’s like deja vu,” second baseman Nick Punto said. “Last year, same thing. A lot of these guys have been through this, though. I think that’s the best part about it. That breeds confidence just knowing you’ve been in a position like this before. It’s fun. We’re having fun.”

Why wouldn’t they be?

A month ago, the Twins were seven games behind Detroit in the division.

Three weeks ago, they lost All-Star slugger Justin Morneau to a season-ending back injury. Last week, they were three games down with four to play.

Yet here they are again, thanks to 16 victories in 20 games and four straight to close the season.

Cabrera in trouble

Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was drunk – three times above Michigan’s legal limit for driving, according to police – between two key games over the weekend as his team was trying to win the American League Central title.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan first baseman was taken to a police station Saturday after arriving at his suburban Detroit home at 5 a.m. and getting into a fight with his wife, Birmingham Police Chief Richard Patterson said.

Short hops

After a miserable season full of baserunning blunders and fielding miscues, the New York Mets made several changes to their coaching staff. First base coach Luis Alicea was fired and third base coach Razor Shines will have a different role next season. Bench coach Sandy Alomar also lost his job, but will be offered another position in the organization, while son Sandy Alomar Jr. likely is headed for a promotion after serving as catching instructor this year. … Chris Carpenter was voted NL comeback player of the year and Aaron Hill won the AL award. … Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is likely headed for surgery to repair his torn right hamstring. … All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract to return to the Milwaukee Brewers next season. ... Houston Astros right-hander Brian Moehler had surgery on his right knee. ... Troy Glaus will be on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster for their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite missing most of the season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. … Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said third base coach Chip Hale and first base coach Lorenzo Bundy will not return. … The Tampa Bay Rays fired hitting coach Steve Henderson following a season in which the Rays set team records for runs, home runs, on-base percentage and walks.

THE LEADERS

Regular season leaders for major statistical categories:

BATTING

Average

AL: Joe Mauer, Twins, .364

NL: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, .342

Home runs

AL: Carlos Pena, Rays, and Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 39

NL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 47

RBI

AL: Mark Teixeira, Yankees, 122

NL: Prince Fielder, Brewers, and Ryan Howard, Phillies, 141

Stolen bases

AL: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, 70

NL: Michael Bourn, Astros, 61

PITCHING

Wins

AL: Justin Verlander, Tigers, CC Sabathia, Yankees, and Felix Hernandez, Mariners, 19

NL: Adam Wainright, Cardinals, 19

ERA

AL: Zack Greinke, Royals, 2.16

NL: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals, 2.24

Strikeouts

AL: Justin Verlander, Tigers, 269

NL: Tim Lincecum, Giants, 261

Saves

AL: Brian Fuentes, Angels, 48

NL: Heath Bell, Padres, 42

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