The Tigers' magic number was five before Friday‘s action, and as the innings progressed at U.S. Cellular Field, the fans and players were on top of every scoring change in the Tigers' game against the Minnesota Twins. The first response from the crowd came when the Twins took a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning.
But the evening's loudest cheer came when the 4-2 victory was flashed on the scoreboard.
”I thought the Bears had scored," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You aren’t really looking at it, but once the crowd screamed it usually means the Bears scored. Of course, we knew that Minnesota had won."
Paul Konerko looked up at the scoreboard after the second ovation.
”When I heard the place go up for grabs I knew something good had happened," Konerko said. "The second time had a different ring to it, so you knew that Minnesota probably won. At that point I looked up there and saw it."
After the Sox's 3-1 win, every player felt renewed knowing they are only a game behind Detroit with five to play. Konerko had talked about needing help from the Twins and Royals the rest of the way.
"It doesn’t take a genius this time of year to figure it out," Konerko said. "Every day you play there is one less game to go, so now we are looking at five games to go with us one out. That feels a little bit better than two with six to play. The key for us was we really were not thinking about Detroit. All the concentration was on this game and we have to keep that attitude tomorrow and the rest of the way."
Alex Rios was the hitting star on Friday, and he said having a singular focus helps.
“We have that mentality that we are always fighting and never focusing on anything except that day’s game," Rios said. "We think of this as a playoff run and nothing else. We are not looking at the big picture, but we expect to be a part of it when the season ends."