Detroit Tigers News

Gerald Laird Lifts Tigers in Wild Finale Over Twins

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Detroit 10, Minnesota 9 (13 inn.) (box)

The Tigers pounded out 19 hits and 10 runs, but it still took them nearly five hours (and a Gerald Laird home run) to finally win a game from the Twins.

It was apparent very early that Twins starter Scott Baker didn’t have it last night. The Tigers pounced on Baker from the jump, putting each of the first three runners on base to bring up Miguel Cabrera. Baker rebounded to strikeout the big fella and was a groundball away from wiggling off the hook. Baker got his groundball, but second baseman Alexi Casilla double clutched the ball, giving Brennan Boeach time to beat the relay to first, putting the Tigers up 1-0. That missed double-play chance would become a recurring theme in this one.

After a Don Kelly homer put the Tigers up by two in the second, the Twins went to work on Justin Verlander. Verlander had worked a perfect first, but allowed singles to each of the first four batters of the second, tying the score in the process. With the Twins up 3-2 in the fifth, the Twins allowed another Tigers run on another botched double play.

Austin Jackson lead off the Tigers fifth with a single and moved to second when Will Rhymes beat out an infield hit. After Johnny Damon‘s fly ball moved Jackson to third, Cabrera came to the plate again. Twins reliever Jeff Manship got a groundball from the Tigers slugger and J.J. Hardy fielded near the bag, stepping on second as he threw to first, appearing to end the inning. But the umpire ruled that Rhymes had beaten Hardy to second and Jackson came home to tie the game at three.

The Tigers must have felt bad about taking two runs on plays the Twins should have made because in the bottom of the inning, they gave them right back.

After getting the lead-off batter, Verlander gave up back-to-back singles to set the table for Delmon Young. The Twins RBI leader hit a comebacker and Verlander would be out of the inning, except Rhymes never caught Verlander’s throw to second, allowing the ball to glance off his glove into centerfield. Instead of a double play, the Twins would score three times in the inning to take a 6-3 lead.

The Tigers trailed 7-3 entering the eighth, but the Twins bullpen got to work giving up the lead. Jhonny Peralta smacked a solo homer to trim the lead to three, then pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn made it back-to-back jacks with a solo shot of his own. That should have been all for the Tigers, but Minnesota’s shoddy defense would rear its head again.

With a runner on and two outs, Jackson sent a slow roller to short. Hardy fielded the ball cleanly, but rushed an off-balance throw that sailed wide of first. With runners now at second and third, Rhymes delivered a clutch two-run single to tie the score at seven.

After the Twins scored again in the bottom of the eighth, they called upon Jesse Crain to close out the ballgame. The first batter Crain faced, Casper Wells, drove a breaking ball over the right field wall to tie the score again. It was the first major league home run for Wells, who has shown a flair for late-inning RBI since being recalled from Toledo.

The game stayed tied until the 11th, when Tuesday’s starter Brian Duensing came on to pitch for the Twins. Duensing got himself into trouble right away when Brandon Inge doubled off the right field wall. The next batter, Peralta, grounded a ball deep behind third, and Danny Valencia‘s throw pulled Michael Cuddyer off the bag. Peralta was ruled safe on the play when the umpire said that Cuddyer’s tag attempt was missed. Replays showed otherwise, but nonetheless, the Tigers had runners at the corners. Raburn made sure the missed call didn’t matter by lining a single through the 5.5 hole and giving the Tigers a lead for the first time since the second.

Enter Jose Valverde in the ninth and hang on tight. Valverde has been terrible lately, but this one wasn’t on him. Facing the top of the Twins order, Valverde started Denard Span with a splitter that missed low. The next three pitches were fastballs, all of them appeared to be strikes, but none of them were called so by the home plate umpire. Casilla immediately followed with a single, but Valverde blew away Joe Mauer on three pitches for the first out. A ground ball would end the game.

Valverde got his ground ball, but the hop ate up Inge at third. By the time he recovered at threw to second, Casilla was already there and the bases were loaded. Again Valverde threw a groundball, but Young’s chopper near the second base bag was bobbled by Rhymes. He recovered quickly, but collided with Ramon Santiago at second while trying to step on the bag. Young was safe at first and the game was tied again. It goes down as a blown save for Valverde, but this one wasn’t his fault.

Still tied in the 13th, Minnesota turned to their scheduled Friday starter Nick Blackburn. Just as seemingly every Twins reliever before him, Blackburn no relief. With one out and nobody on, Blackburn served up a solo homer to Laird, which gave the Tigers another lead. Valverde, working his third inning, sat down the side in order to secure the win for Detroit.

So that’s what happened. I’ll have many more thoughts on the game later.

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