Tigers 7, Twins 3 (box)
It was supposed to be a battle of the staff aces, but Twins starter Francisco Liriano didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. He was yanked after only 1.2 innings, but the game was all but lost for the Twins already. His line for the game: 1.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 1K.
It was the Tigers’ heart of the order that provided the offense (is anyone surprised?). Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Brennan Boesch, and Carlos Guillen combined for eight of the eleven Tiger hits, and drove in all seven runs. Not much happened offensively after Liriano left the game, but then again, nothing more needed to happen. (More after the jump.)
In contrast to Liriano, Justin Verlander pitched pretty well. Entering the sixth inning he had only allowed one run on three hits, but the pesky Twins hitters wouldn’t go quietly. Justin ran into some trouble in that inning, allowing one run to score on five singles before being lifted from the game in favor of rookie Robbie Weinhardt. Robbie wasted no time in inducing a double play to get the good guys out of the inning without further damage. It wasn’t an overly dominant performance by Justin, he did allow eight hits and two walks in only 5.1 innings, but he struck out seven batters, and he didn’t give up an extra base hit. He also helped himself out by picking two runners off of first; he has a very good pickoff move, and he certainly showcased it tonight.
Robbie Weinhardt struck out two batters in a perfect seventh inning. He recorded his second hold in only his second major league appearance, while lowering his ERA to 3.38. He has tremendous stuff, and he will continue to have success if keeps throwing strikes. This youngster will end up playing a big role as a late inning guy out of the pen this season.
Jose Valverde had to come in to save the game in the ninth after Ryan Perry gave up a run on two hits without recording an out. I would be much more comfortable with the Tigers bullpen if Ryan Perry could lock down the setup role, but that hasn’t happened so far.
It was only one game, and the Twins were without All-Star slugger Justin Morneau, but it sure does feel good to beat the Twins. The game’s result drops Minnesota to three games back of the Tigers, but the red-hot Chicago White Sox, after defeating the Royals Friday night, are right on the Tigers’ heels at only a half game back.
The other good news of the day came in the form of the Rangers’ acquisition of Cliff Lee. Minnesota was reportedly interested in trading for the left-handed starting pitcher, but fortunately he’ll stay in the American League West and stay out of the Central.