Twins take Game 1 of doubleheader in Detroit

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Ron Gardenhire did his best to over-manage the game by calling for five bunts–including a suicide squeeze that resulted in an inning-ending double play–but the Twins still prevailed in extra innings this afternoon to take Game 1 of the crucial doubleheader in Detroit.
Nick Blackburn and Rick Porcello both turned in strong starts, combining for 13.1 frames of two-run ball, but the Twins got to Brandon Lyon for a pair of 10th-inning runs in his second inning of work. That gave closer Joe Nathan a bit of breathing room and he needed it, serving up a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson before getting three straight outs for his league-leading 45th save.
Minnesota is now just one game back of Detroit in the AL Central, but the Tigers have a sizable advantage for Game 2 with ace Justin Verlander and 26-year-old rookie Brian Duensing taking the mound in less than four hours. A win by Verlander would essentially leave the Twins needing to win both of the final two games to have any sort of realistic shot at the division title.
However, if the Twins can pull off an upset victory against Verlander they’ll be tied atop the division and in the driver’s seat with Scott Baker and Carl Pavano matching up against Eddie Bonine and Nate Robertson to finish the series. As the great Ernie Banks said, let’s play two!

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.