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Tigers 7, Twins 3: Detroit Gets to Bullpen, Minnesota Can't Get to the Plate

July 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) hits a three run home run during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
July 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder (28) hits a three run home run during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

There are a few storylines here, but most of them aren't going to be a great deal of fun to talk about because the Twins had their chances to put some distance between themselves and the Tigers. Instead they shot themselves in the foot. The Tigers made some good throws as the Twins made some ill-advised turns around third base; the Tigers took advantage of mediocre relief pitching in the late going.

Scott Diamond was good, once again. His offense gave him three runs which was enough at the time, as he allowed just five hits and a walk through seven innings while striking out four. It was what's become a prototypical Diamond effort. It's not very exciting but he knows what he's doing, and he's nasty enough to get a few swings and misses. Towards the end, particularly in the seventh inning, he seemed to be missing his spots more often. He was done after seven having thrown 91 pitches, meaning he probably could have come out for the eighth (he'd thrown more than 91 pitches in 8 of his 11 starts), but that's the call that was made.

Before we get to the Tigers' comeback, after the jump let's outline the circumstances which led to three players being thrown out at home.

  1. The second inning yielded five singles for the Twins, but only one run. Trevor Plouffe, Darin Mastroianni, and Brian Dozier knocked three consecutive singles to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead with one out. Jamey Carroll followed that up with a high chopper to third. Miguel Cabrera made a clean fielding play and an easy throw home, and Gerald Laird did a pretty good job of blocking the plate and applying the tag. Now, Mastroianni's left hand did sneak under Laird's leg and touched the plate, but I can't tell if that was before or after the tag was applied.
  2. The very next batter, Denard Span, broke his bat but singled into left field. Dozier was already rounding third by the time the ball was picked up by Ryan Raburn, but Raburn made an absolutely perfect throw. His relay was high but brought Laird into the base path, blocking Dozier whose awkward slide had no chance of getting around the Tiger backstop.
  3. In the eighth inning, Mastroianni singled to lead off the frame. Then he stole second. Then he stole third. Dozier struck out looking, while Maestro was on second base for the first out. After the swipe of third, Carroll attempted to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt against Octavio Dotel. The pitch was way outside, and while Carroll reached he just didn't have a prayer. Mastroianni was dead in the water.
Then there was that crazy fourth, which also included five singles, as well as a double steal (Mastroianni, Dozier), and a dropped pop up by the permanently 20-year old Rick Porcello. It led to two runs, which was better, but not one time was a player able to advance two bases. Not from first to third, not from second to home. This also happened in the third when, following Ryan Doumit's double, Justin Morneau's single only advanced him to third.

It's hard to win when you can't take an extra base, and it's even harder to win when you do decide to move up a base and get thrown out at home.

Pulling Diamond in spite of 91 pitches will be second guessed, but if Diamond had come out for the eighth and proceeded to get shelled we'd all be asking why he came out at all. Instead, Alex Burnett picked up the first out before missing up and in to Austin Jackson. Jackson went the other way on a liner just fair down the right field line and pushed himself for a triple and at that point, in spite of still leading 3-2, the game felt like a loss waiting to happen.

Something called Quintin Berry walked, Miguel Cabrera singled to knot the score, and then Tyler Robertson was brought on to face Prince Fielder. Robertson dealt a poor breaking ball on the first pitch and then...well...let's just say Fielder remembered how foolish the rookie made him look last time. Fielder uncorked on Robertson's slider and put it in the seats. Delmon Young followed that up with his own homer, although it was much less dramatic.

The 3-2 lead was a 7-3 deficit before you finished blinking. If you didn't see this game, be happy. It feels like multiple losses today, even though a series split against a division rival in their house is nothing to be ashamed of.

Span (2 H, RBI)
Mauer (2 H, RBI, BB
Doumit (2 H)
Mastroianni (3 H, 3 SB)
Dozier (3 H, 2 SB)
Diamond (7 IP, 2 R)

Burnett (0.1 IP, 3 R)
Robertson (0 IP, HR)
Swarzak (0.2 IP, R)
Carroll (0-fer)