Twins 10, Tigers 4 (box score)
Twins 2, Tigers 1 (10 innings) (box score)
Well, this series didn’t end the way I would have drawn it up, that’s for sure. After pounding the Twins 8-0 in game one on Saturday, the Tigers put up two feeble attempts on Sunday.
In game one, Max Scherzer was cruising into the fifth inning when he ran into some trouble. The bullpen and defense didn’t help him out, however, and the Twins ended up hanging a five-spot on the board. It was all they would need – the Tigers only managed four runs themselves – but they tacked on five more runs over the next two innings as well. Just for good measure.
The Tigers, for their part, managed only four hits and two runs (in seven innings) off of Twins’ starter Scott Diamond. You will notice a theme.
Game two was either a pitcher’s duel or a paltry display of hitting. That depends on how generous you’re feeling, but the real answer is probably paltry hitting. P.J. Walters and his 5.88 ERA held the Tigers to one run on five hits over six innings. The Minnesota bullpen was even better, allowing only one hit over the final four innings.
Detroit’s pitching wasn’t too bad either. Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque, and Joaquin Benoit combined to throw nine innings of five-hit ball with two walks, seven strikeouts, and zero earned runs allowed. Unfortunately the defense didn’t help them out very much – three errors were recorded and the Twins plated an unearned run.
Jose Valverde entered to pitch the ninth and allowed two hits and saw the go-ahead run score. Some will blame more defensive ineptitude for not getting to at least one of those hits, but it’s tough for the defense to get everything when Valverde allows so many balls to be put in play. His strikeout stuff appears to be completely gone, and he’s at the mercy of the hitter and defense for the outcomes of each at-bat.
But Valverde can’t shoulder the blame for the loss. Even though he allowed the game-winning run in the tenth inning, the offense allowed it to happen. The pitching staff allowed only a single earned run to score in ten innings (and two runs total), and the offense couldn’t muster enough support to win that. That’s unfortunate.
The good news, if there is any, was that the Los Angeles Angels completed a sweep of the Chicago White Sox, so the Tigers were actually able to gain a game in the standings even given a series loss to the Twins. The flip side of that, of course, is that they’re not tied when the division lead was there for the taking. Still, a one game deficit is much better than the three game deficit they faced six days ago.