Metrodome memories: Game 163 Twins vs Tigers


“Metrodome Memories” is a regular BringMeTheNews feature that will recount the goodbad and the ugly until the Dome sweet Dome is dismantled forever.

Sometimes words can't describe how unbelievable a moment in time was. Game 163 in 2009 between the Twins and Tigers at the Metrodome is one of those moments.

In this piece, we'll throw in some words, but the video will truly speak to Twins fans. It will send a pulse through the body that makes one miss watching a team play for something special. Three straight 90-loss seasons has dulled the senses of fans who used to feel the exhilaration that moments like Game 163 provided.

It was an instant-classic. So much so that MLB Network ranked it the 16th greatest game in MLB history.

The back story to how Game 163 came to be is almost as good as the game. The 2009 Twins, led by MVP Joe Mauer, had a terribly difficult time chasing down the Tigers all season.

On Sept. 12, 2009, the Twins were 70-72. They needed to make a dramatic run over the final 20 games of the season for a chance to make the playoffs. They did just that.

They won 13 of the next 14 to come within two games of the AL Central leading Tigers, who they played a four-game series against two days later in the penultimate series of the season.

They split the series, setting up a remarkable finish over the final three days. Minnesota swept the Royals and the Tigers lost two of three to the White Sox, forcing the deciding Game 163.

"It's going to be fun," Detroit's Curtis Granderson said at the time, via ESPN. "I'm sure Minnesota is going to be rocking."

Rocking? Yes, it was... especially when Alexi Casilla drove in Carlos Gomez with the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th inning. A fan sitting in the outfield seats caught the moment on camera.

Here's how Sports Illustrated summarized the epic clash.

In game No. 163, the Tigers went ahead 3-0 on a third-inning homer by Miguel Cabrera, but Minnesota chipped away -- just as it had in erasing a late seven-game division deficit. Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the seventh put the Twins up 4-3, but Magglio Ordonez tied it with a solo shot leading off the eighth. The Tigers took the lead in the 10th, but the Twins tied it again following a leadoff triple by Michael Cuddyer. After the Tigers loaded the bases in the 12th but couldn't score, the Twins finally ended it -- and extended the baseball life of the Metrodome -- against Fernando Rodney on singles by slap-hitting in-game subs Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla.

The Wall Street Journal did a live blog of the game. Here's a taste of what was said when Joe Nathan got out of a bases-loaded, nobody out jam in the ninth.

8:22: HOLY SCHNIKES. Magglio lines into a double play.

This game is completely ridiculous. It is worthy of ridicule for being this awesome.

8:20: Joe Nathan just got an absolute gift of a strike-three call to get Polanco. That missed by a good six inches.

Apparently the umps get overtime pay.

8:17: Joe Nathan’s struggling, the game and the season are on the line. You know what that means…


8:16: Single to right by Granderson! 1st and 3rd, nobody out, Polanco up.

8:13: Ninety-nine times out of 100, diving into first base is a bad idea.

That was the 100th. Unbelievable bunt single by Ramon Santiago to lead off the 9th.

8:10: Tolbert strikes out to end the 8th. Still tied 4-4.

Tigers have Santiago, then top of the order coming up vs. Nathan. Buckle up.

The fact that Minnesota made the playoffs was a miracle to members of the Twins' front office. Former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, according to the Star Tribune, said the bosses didn't give them a chance.

"The owners threw us a party and the owners are giving us a speech – this is with three weeks left in the season – ‘Well, the season didn’t go as planned, but we appreciate the effort that you guys put forward,’ and we’re kind of looking at each other going, ‘We’ve still got a little ways to go, albeit uphill,’ and lo and behold we go out and put ourselves in a position to get into the playoffs," Cuddyer said.

It was an unbelievable game, and one of the greatest memories in Metrodome history.

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