DETROIT, OCT. 12 -- Sparky Anderson jogged across the field, headed up the tunnel and into the clubhouse of the new American League champions. Once inside, amidst the hugs and the shouts and the champagne showers, he began shaking hands and whispering "Good luck" into each ear.
Then, as quickly as he'd entered, he departed, leaving the Minnesota Twins to celebrate a 9-5 victory over his Detroit Tigers and their first pennant in 22 years.
The Twins, the team of Killebrew and Carew and, lately, Puckett and Gaetti, will begin the 1987 World Series Saturday night at the Metrodome against either the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals. It will be the first time a World Series game has been played indoors, but that's a perfectly incredible touch for a perfectly incredible season.
"In a short series," Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti said, "we didn't think there should be a favorite or an underdog. Anything can happen in a short series, and you just saw it happen."
Baseball had just seen one of its remarkable upsets, the Twins winning the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, four games to one. They did it after getting to the playoffs only because of a weak division and after winning 85 regular season games, going 29-52 away from the Metrodome and giving up more runs (806) than they scored (786).
They did it with a 37-year-old rookie manager (Tom Kelly) and after losing 91 games a season earlier.
But, in a short series, anything can happen and most everything did. Gaetti was named most valuable player, probably more for what he did at the beginning than for his .300 average and five runs batted in.
In Game 1, against unbeaten Doyle Alexander, Gaetti hit home runs in his first two at-bats.
"He showed us we were capable of doing some damage," Kelly said. "I think that was the key to getting us going on the right foot."
The Tigers, the team with the best record in baseball, seemed stunned by the homers and never recovered. They blew a 5-4 lead in Game 1, a 2-0 lead in Game 2 and a 1-0 lead in Game 4. Their only victory was in Game 3, when Pat Sheridan hit an eighth-inning home run.
They'd been such a perfect machine in the regular season, but a few days after an emotionally draining season-ending series with Toronto, looked dead from the first pitch. Their four starting pitchers had an 8.38 ERA, and the Tigers made eight errors.
"They didn't give us a chance to regroup," reliever Mike Henneman said. "Whenever we made a mistake, they cashed in. This wasn't the same Minnesota team that I faced all year."
After four straight close games, today's must have seemed easy for the Twins, who chased Alexander with four second-inning runs and never trailed. They finished with 15 hits against four pitchers, including three hits apiece by Dan Gladden and Tom Brunansky, who hit a team-high .412 and had nine RBI, also a team high.
Starter Bert Blyleven went six innings for his second victory of the playoffs, but the bullpen was outstanding again, allowing two earned runs in three innings. Overall, the bullpen never let the Tigers up for air, allowing four earned runs in 18 innings.
"This ball club came in here with more get up and go than any club I've ever played against in a playoff," Anderson said.
Alexander was ineffective for a second straight start, and will spend the winter remembering having allowed 10 earned runs in nine postseason innings. For all the outstanding things he has done, performing well in postseason play isn't one of them (0-5, 8.38 ERA).
He was around for only 31 pitches today and left trailing, 4-0. The Twins got those runs beginning when Gaetti singled, Randy Bush walked and Brunansky doubled the two home.
Brunansky ended up costing the Twins a run when he tried to stretch his double into a triple and was out on second baseman Lou Whitaker's relay throw.
Steve Lombardozzi followed with a single and went to second on Tim Laudner's grounder. Gladden singled to score Lombardozzi, and, after Greg Gagne was hit by a pitch, Kirby Puckett's single made it 4-0.
Eric King relieved Alexander and got Kent Hrbek to ground to Whitaker to end the inning. King was outstanding after that and gave the Tigers a chance to get back in the game by allowing one run in five innings.
Blyleven shut down the Tigers for three innings, but in the fourth, they needed three swings to close within 4-3. Kirk Gibson led off with a double to left and scored on Alan Trammell's single to center.
Blyleven challenged Matt Nokes with a fastball down the middle, and Nokes slapped it into the right field seats, his first homer of the playoffs.
The Twins made it 5-3 in the seventh against King. Hrbek singled with one out, and King hit Gaetti. Hrbek went to third on King's wild pitch and scored on Bush's fly.
The Twins made it 6-3 in the eighth, an inning that included the Tigers' eighth error of the series. With one out, Gladden doubled to left-center. Gagne walked, and Puckett hit a one-bouncer to the mound. Henneman threw to Whitaker for the force on Gagne, but Whitaker's throw to first sailed past Evans.
Evans was charged with an error for not leaving the bag to catch the throw, but Whitaker made a wide and low throw despite having no chance to get Puckett. The error became irrelevant because Hrbek followed with a single to center, meaning the run would have scored anyway.
Kelly used left-hander Dan Schatzeder for the seventh, and Juan Berenguer started the eighth. He got the first two outs, but, after Chet Lemon hit his third homer of the series, Kelly waved for closer Jeff Reardon..
Brunansky homered off Henneman in the ninth for a 7-4 lead. Lombardozzi beat out a hit and came around on a grounder and Gladden's single.
By then, the bleachers were emptying and the crowd was silent. But the Twins weren't finished. Anderson brought in Jeff Robinson, and Gagne doubled to right to score Gladden for a 9-4 lead.
The Tigers did bounce back with a run in the ninth, but Reardon got Nokes on a bouncer back to the mound to end it.
"I hate to be redundant about it," Kelly said, "but we just do the best we can day in and day out. If we pitch good and catch the ball in the field, we've got a chance. I think that's what happened in these few games."