Tigers 4, Twins 3 (box score)
It looked for a while like it was going to be one of “those” games. “Those” games being the type that seemingly always take place against the Twins when seeing eye base hits, shoddy defensive work, and unfortunate bounces all seem to go Minnesota’s way.
The Twins got on the board right away in the top of the first inning when Josh Willingham took a 2-2 offering by Max Scherzer deep to left field for a solo home run. That was a “legitimate” run, but the “Twins runs” started come the next inning. Trevor Plouffe singled on a ground ball up the middle, then Oswaldo Arcia singled on a soft ground ball to third that Miguel Cabrera had to double-clutch to get it out of his glove. The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Scherzer, and Plouffe came home on an Aaron Hicks ground out.
That’s single, infield single, advance on wild pitch, RBI groundout for those of you keeping score at home. A very Twins sequence.
Scherzer would get out of the inning with just the one runner touching home plate, but the game had already developed the “everything will go wrong” feeling.
Luckily, though, Andy Dirks would start the scoring for the Tigers the next inning before Minnesota could build a bigger lead. Dirks, who had been struggling to start the year, blasted a solo home run to right field to cut the Detroit deficit to one. Unfortunately, Minnesota would answer in the fourth. A pair of doubles — by Chris Parmelee and Oswaldo Arcia — would push across a third run for the Twins. Fortunately that’s all they’d get. Minnesota would get a bunt single in the top of the fifth, but no more hitters would reach base.
Dirks started off the fifth inning with a bunt single of his own, and a rally was instantly brewing. Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey walked Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder stepped to the plate. Prince belted a pitch deep to left center that ended up landing in the Twins’ bullpen to give Detroit a 4-3 lead. It was the fifth Detroit home run in the last two days.
Scherzer struck out the side in the seventh before returning to start the eighth. He would face only one batter who he struck out for his tenth strikeout of the evening. He didn’t walk a batter.
Drew Smyly entered to retire the final two batters of the eighth inning and answered the bell in the ninth to retire the first two batters before yielding the ball to Joaquin Benoit who induced a two-pitch ground out to record the save (Jose Valverde was unavailable after pitching the previous two days in a row).
The win lifts the Tigers to a 14-10 record (.583, 94-95 win pace). They’re a half game ahead of the Kansas City Royals for first place in the AL Central. The win also makes four-in-a-row for the Tigers; they haven’t lost a nine-inning game since the 10-0 Rick Porcello debacle in Los Angeles (eight games ago).