Twins fans of a certain vintage may have been alternating between cold sweats and strange comfort on Thursday night, as the Twins turned a certain victory into a possible defeat into a certain victory into a searing defeat.
The final tally, 11-10 for Cleveland, was the first time those teams had played to that result since Sept. 28, 1984.
As bad as Wednesday night at Target Field turned out to be, it was no match for what happened that night nearly 38 years ago.
To set the scene, the surprising upstart Twins had a 5.5 game division lead at the end of August before a major swoon. But they went 9-17 in their next 26 games, trailing Kansas City in the AL West race by two games.
A five-game winning streak followed, however, tying the Twins in the running heading into the final week. So what …
The Twins lost two road games to the White Sox but were still less than 1.5 games away from a season-ending four-game streak at Cleveland (which was just 71-87 at the start of the season). series).
Game 1 of this series was the first kick in the teeth. The Twins led 3-0 late in the eighth, but Cleveland rallied for three runs in that inning against Mike Smithson and Ron Davis. Then in the ninth, Davis gave up a two-out home run to Jamie Quirk — the only hit and indeed the only plate appearance Quirk has ever had for Cleveland — in a 4-3 loss.
Still, there was a chance to enter the next game. And the Twins looked set to take full advantage when they built a 10-0 lead and had Frank Viola on the mound.
At the end of the sixth, it was 10-9. At the end of the eighth, it was 10-10. And in the bottom of the ninth, Davis gave up another run — his 11th loss of the season — as Cleveland won 11-10 and officially knocked the Twins out of the playoffs.
Current Twins reliever Emilio Pagan, who got his fill in Thursday’s Cleveland rally after giving up tie runs in Wednesday’s horrific 6-5 loss, has some Davis qualities about him.
But as frustrating as Pagan was and as bad as Thursday’s loss seemed to knock the Twins out of first place, there are still nearly 100 games left this year. And there may never be another reliever like Davis or an 11-10 loss like the one on Sept. 28, 1984.
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