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Blackburn Gets Start In Regular Season Finale

(Sports Network) - The American League Central champion Minnesota Twins will open the ALDS on Wednesday at Target Field. However, who they will be facing is still to be decided.

First things first, though. The Twins try to head into the postseason on a winning note this afternoon when they wrap up their regular season with the finale of a four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Twins won for just the second time in nine games on Saturday, as Alexi Casilla singled home two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, lifting Minnesota to a 5-4 win.

Casilla also singled in two runs in the fifth inning for the Twins, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit to snare the win. Minnesota's hopes for homefield advantage throughout the AL playoffs, though, were dashed when the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway later in the day.

Minnesota will host the wild card winner in the postseason, which will either be the Tampa Bay Rays or Yankees.

The Twins trailed 4-3 heading to the ninth against Kevin Gregg (2-6), but Delmon Young led off with a double. The Toronto closer retired the next two batters before issuing walks to both Jason Kubel and Jose Morales. Casilla quickly took a pair of strikes, then worked the count full and fouled off a pair of pitches before grounding a base hit up the middle to plate a pair of runners and set off a wild celebration.

"I was battling him until I got the right pitch to hit and I hit it right up the middle and we got a 'W,'" said Casilla.

Young also drove in a run for Minnesota, which received four innings of one- hit relief from its bullpen after starter Brian Duensing allowed four runs on seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Matt Capps (2-0) picked up the win with a perfect ninth.

Shaun Marcum was in line for the win for Toronto after yielding three runs and five hits with no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. Edwin Encarnacion became the seventh different Blue Jay to reach 20 home runs with a two-run shot and Vernon Wells also doubled in a run for Toronto, which lost for just the second time in its last 10 games.

"We have a good ballclub and Marcum pitched well," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. "We had some opportunities to drive in some runs. They had a big ninth inning and came back to win the ballgame."

Toronto has hit 255 home runs on the year, fourth best in major league history. While the Seattle Mariners' major league record of 264 is likely out of reach, the Blue Jays could move their way up the list, as they trail the 1996 Orioles (257) and 2005 Rangers (260).

Toronto has had 14 games with four or more homers, and has hit five-plus five times.

Hoping to keep the Jays in the yard this afternoon will be righty Nick Blackburn, who is 10-11 on the year with a 5.55 ERA. Blackburn, though, has lost two of his last three starts and was roughed up by Kansas City for eight runs and eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings his last time out.

Toronto, meanwhile, will hand the ball to Marc Rzepczynski, who has won his last two starts. He is 3-4 on the year with a 5.56 ERA.

Today's finale will also be the last game for Toronto skipper Cito Gaston, who will call it quits after 1,731 games as a manager -- all of them with the Blue Jays, spread across 21 years.

The Blue Jays have won five of eight meetings between these teams this year and have fared very well in Minneapolis as of late, having won nine of 10 games as the visitor in this series since the start of the 2008 season.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.