Detroit Tigers take series from Minnesota Twins with wild 17-14 win
It was a win the Detroit Lions would have been proud of, let alone the Detroit Tigers. Detroit withstood a late Minnesota rally and won by field goal in a classic NFC North match.
Uh, that is, the Tigers won three runs in a 17-14 slugfest at Target Field in Minneapolis, about a mile from the Minnesota Vikings’ home field. In total, the Tigers and Minnesota Twins scored 31 runs in 31 hits and 16 walks – and that was just in the series finale on Wednesday.
“An ugly win is better than any loss,” said Tiger manager AJ Hinch. “A long day of course, but a productive day with a series win in a place we didn’t win this year. We needed every ounce of effort from our boys.”
The Tigers (49-55) used an eight-run fourth inning – a product of three singles, two doubles, a triple, two walks, and a pair of prey flies – a sixth three-run inning, and finally a foursome ninth inning to win the twins to outlast.
Meanwhile, the Twins scored six runs in both the fourth and eighth innings and almost made a comeback after being 10 runs behind to reach the end of the fourth inning.
The Tigers’ lead had shrunk to one when Eric Haase came on the plate in ninth place with two outs. His double from three runs put the Tigers four runs ahead; he then scored a 17-12 lead on Jeimer Candelario’s 26th doubles of the season. Gregory Soto gave Jorge Polanco a double homer in the ninth inning – Minnesota’s seventh long ball – but ended the game.
For the first time since July 23, 1961, the Tigers scored 17 runs without a home run.
After winning their first seven games from the All-Star break against the Twins and Texas Rangers at Comerica Park, the Tigers were defeated by the Kansas City Royals in three games at Kauffman Stadium. They lost the series opener against the twins on Monday, but rebounded with consecutive wins (thanks to the five combined runs from the ninth inning on Tuesday night).
Detroit is 40-31 years old as of May 8th.
“It wasn’t always nice, but we got a series win in three absolutely crazy games,” said catcher Grayson Greiner. “We’re going home with a series win so it’ll be a happy flight. Ready to go back to work in Detroit.”
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In the fourth, the Tigers sent 11 thugs to the plate. The first seven – Harold Castro (singles), Greiner (walk), Akil Baddoo (one-run doubles), Derek Hill (one-run singles), Robbie Grossman (one-run singles), Haase (walk) and Candelario (Zwei.) -Run double) – safely reached to chase Twins starter JA Happ.
“We just stayed very disciplined, had some really big turns and kept the line moving when we got him in trouble,” said Hinch. “Getting him out of the game felt like a success because both Bullpens were on smoke. It turned out to be the case. We just couldn’t get to the finish line as easily as we wanted.”
The twins replaced Happ with ex-Tiger Beau Burrows.
Zack Short followed Candelario’s double with a sacrificial fly for an 8-0 lead. Willi Castro tripled into midfield to make it 9-0, and Harold Castro’s sacrificial fly increased the lead to 10. Burrows escaped further damage when Greiner finished the inning.
The eight runs scored in the fourth inning were the highest number of runs the Tigers have scored in an inning since they scored nine runs in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners on April 25, 2017. (In that game, Ian Kinsler, Tyler Collins, Alex Avila, Jim Adduci, and Andrew Romine each had at least three hits.)
Happ allowed nine runs on 10 hits and four walks over three plus innings. It was the first time since June 2, 2017 that the Tigers scored 10 or more runs in the first four innings against the Chicago White Sox.
“If we don’t have that big inning,” said Hinch, “we don’t sit here and talk about winning the series based on how they swung the clubs later in the game.”
The Tigers scored first place in the second inning with three direct singles from Willi Castro, Harold Castro and Greiner. Greiner’s single rolled to the left and scored Willi Castro from second base to take the lead 1-0.
Hill’s two-out Bunt single hit Harold Castro to take a 2-0 lead.
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All in all, the Tigers went Wednesday 16 for 39 with nine walks and six strikeouts. They finished 11-for-18 with runners in the points position and received multi-hit performances from Baddoo (2-for-5, one step), Hill (3-for-6), Candelario (2-for-5, one ). walk), Willi Castro (2-for-4), Harold Castro (2-for-4) and Grayson Greiner (2-for-3, two walks).
Haase finished 1-for-3 with three RBIs and three walks.
Peralta gives in
The Tigers gave right-handed starter Wily Peralta a 10-0 lead, but in the bottom of the fourth he allowed six runs. Minnesota’s early rally started with Miguel Sano’s solo home run into the center and continued with three singles to load the bases.
Ryan Jeffers then shot a grand slam to center a sinker and cut the margin to five runs. After Peralta had an out, he hit Max Kepler with a fastball and forced Hinch to turn to his bullpen.
“Bad execution,” said Hinch. “The ball was flying all over the place. We didn’t run, and they came back into the game with a big swing. … After that, they just didn’t stop hitting Homer. We thank them for continuing the fight when they were down at ten. “
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Righty Reliever Kyle Funkhouser stepped in, allowing three consecutive singles to Brent Rooker, Polanco and Sano. Sano’s single cut the Tigers’ lead to 10-6.
Funkhouser then knocked out Trevor Larnach with the loaded bases and got Willians Astudillo to step into a troop to end the inning. Peralta allowed six runs with six hits and two walks – with a strikeout – over 3⅓ innings. He threw 42 of 76 pitches for strikes.
“When I got Funkhouser in there, I was clearly just trying to stop the inning,” said Hinch. “At the start of this inning, there was no way Funkhouser thought he was going in. There’s no way you can get in with a 10-run (lead). That’s not his role.”
In the 56-minute fourth inning, the Tigers and Twins combined 14 runs and 14 hits.
The Tigers scored at least 10 runs for the fifth time in franchise history and allowed at least six runs within the first four innings. The other incidents were against The Twins (August 31, 1990), Mariners (April 9, 1996), Twins (April 24, 1996), and Baltimore Orioles (July 4, 1997).
Bullpen almost loses the game
After left-hander Derek Holland took over the fifth inning, the Twins seemed destined for a replay of the fourth inning.
Nick Gordon received a fielding error from first baseman Harold Castro, and Jeffers walked. Holland withdrew the next two batter, but invited the bases by going rooker on five pitches.
He got out of the traffic jam by swinging Polanco on three pitches.
“Suddenly there are people pitching late in the game who didn’t get into this game, considering that this is their role,” said Hinch. “It’s a mental challenge. It would have been a heartbreaking loss because the day started like this.”
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Back on the board
The Tigers extended their lead to 13-6 with three runs against Burrows in the sixth inning. Haase and Candelario took short, consecutive walks with an RBI double on the third baseline. Willi Castro chipped in a sacrificial flight and Greiner doubled the right field wall for the 13th run of his team.
Right-handed Buck Farmer threw in perfect sixth and seventh places, but then allowed Kepler and Rooker in for the eighth consecutive solo homer. After Farmer Polanco ran, Hinch called on righty Joe Jimenez with no outs to face Sano.
“You’re trying to plan the game,” said Hinch. “When you’re 10 runs ahead you get a little greedy and think, ‘How can I get to the finish line without using the guys you want to rest?’ The twins didn’t really let that happen. They decided to beat everyone. “
“It’s a little unfair to Buck. I asked him to do a third inning. It’s more me than him. It’s not something he usually does, but we wanted as many outs as possible from everyone today individual types. “
On Jimenez’s first pitch, Sano started a 473-foot homer to reduce the Tigers’ lead to three. The Twins then crossed over on a two-run shot by Jeffers on a sixth home run – and their fourth long ball in the eighth – to make it a one-run game.
Jimenez accompanied Josh Donaldson to give the go-ahead, but he beat Kepler.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.