1987: Twins Clinch AL Championship

Monday October 12, 1987

Twins 9, Tigers 5

For months they bounced off floors, pushing their backs away from walls that seemed cracked and crumbling behind them.

For a week they forgot about destiny, fate and the breaks of the game. When they had to win, they did. The saga continued Monday afternoon at fabled Tiger Stadium.

The Twins swung first and didn’t stop connecting until the Detroit Tigers fell into a heap on their own field. With an uncommon blend of guile, enthusiasm and resiliency, the Twins stormed into the World Series with a 9-5 victory that gave them the American League Championship Series four games to one.

This was a knockout, a bloody beating administered by an underdog that never considered another outcome. The Twins outpitched and out-hit baseball’s biggest winners and they did it with convincing conviction.

-Mark Vancil, Star Tribune 10/13/1987

The Twins started the game big, scoring four runs off of Doyle Alexander in the second inning to silence the Tiger Stadium crowd. Though the hometown Tigers were able to creep back into the game with a three-run fourth, The Twins were able to outscore them in the final innings to clinch the franchise’s first AL Pennant since 1965.

The four-run second was a team effort. The Twins batted around, but the big hit was a Tom Brunansky two RBI double that started the scoring. Doyle Alexander, who finished the regular season on fire for the Tigers, had a tough series, finishing 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA.

Brunansky effectively capped off the upset with a two-run home run in the ninth inning.

Gary Gaetti earned ALCS MVP honors, thanks to his .300/.348/.650 line and the two home runs he started the series with in Game 1.

“The way Gary Gaetti came out in the first game and hit those two homers I think it was a big signal to the rest of us,” said second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. “After that first one it was like he said, `Here we are and boy, we’re coming out shooting. And we’re going down kicking if we’re going to lose.’

“I’m really happy for the guy. He deserved to be the MVP. The guy went out and set the tone.”

Gary Gaetti had an interesting response to his award, as told by Dennis Brackin in the Strib:

“I’ll tell you the truth: Winning this award spoils a lot of the fun that I wanted to have after the game,” he said. “I got led around (to a postgame interview room) like a dog on a leash: `Go do this, go do that.’ I really wanted to be with my teammates. Even now, I can’t be with my team, doing what I want to do, because I have to answer the questions.

On the flight home, the Twins were told that a few thousand fans had gathered in the Metrodome to greet them. By the time they arrived, the team was greeted by more the 50,000 homer hanky-waving fans.

The Twins await the winner of the NLCS, who they will play when the World Series begins in five days.

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