Desperately needing a victory to avoid a disastrous week, the Twins experienced a few moments early on Sunday that appeared they were going to turn the tide. Unfortunately those came early in the game, and the good guys couldn’t get any offense going against the Tigers bullpen, as Detroit swept the three-game set with a 3-2 victory at Comerica Park. Minnesota has now lost five contests in a row and finished their shortened nine-game road trip with a record of 3-6.
Facing highly touted Casey Mize in just his third big league start, the Twins worked him to the tune of 67 pitches in three innings of work, although he only surrendered a pair of runs. Control problems were more than evident, as he punked a trio of batters and walked two. The Twins were unable to take full advantage, stranding two in the first and third frames. In between, however, Marwin Gonzalez crossed home on a wild pitch in the second to tie the game at 1 and Jorge Polanco muscled up, launching his third home run of the season leading off the third, giving his team a 2-1 lead. An unfortunate break occurred later in the inning. After Nelson Cruz and Jake Cave were each plunked, Luis Arraez smoked a line drive that appeared destined for an RBI single up the middle. However, the ball caught the pitcher Mize on the foot and deflected to third baseman Isaac Paredes, who stepped on the bag for the forceout. Gonzalez then whiffed to end the frame and a potential crooked number went by the wayside.
Detroit had the early lead courtesy of a future hall of famer reaching a terrific accomplishment. Miguel Cabrera singled in the first inning for his 2,000th hit as a member of the Tigers, this being his 13th season with the team. The base hit plated Victor Reyes, who smoked a leadoff triple to right-center.
Maeda turned in his fifth quality start in seven outings, but two solo homers ultimately made the difference on this Sunday afternoon. Jeimer Candelario smoked a no-doubter to right field leading off the home fourth, and then Jonathan Schoop started the sixth with a low line drive that got over the wall in left, giving the Tigers the lead and what turned out to be the game-deciding tally.
The Twins only had three baserunners in the final six frames, all coming on a two-out single - Max Kepler in the fourth, Polanco in the seventh and Ryan Jeffers in the ninth. After Polanco’s hit, former Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire came to the mound to take the ball from Tyler Alexander, who was brilliant - allowing just the two singles in 3.2 innings of work. Enter Joe Jimenez, who fanned Cruz on a slider to end the inning.
Minnesota was punchless against the lockdown crew of the Tigers bullpen. Buck Farmer recorded a strikeout and a pair of groundouts in the eighth before Gregory Soto entered in the ninth, looking for his second save in as many days. Gonzalez flied to left as did pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario, before Jeffers kept the game alive with his aforementioned base hit.
Caleb Thielbar was excellent out of the Twins ‘pen, retiring all six batters he faced with four punchouts, including striking out the side in the seventh. On the day, Twins pitching did not issue a walk and fanned 12 batters. Polanco recorded the lone multi-hit game for the visitors, going 2-for-4 with his third-inning long ball.
The pair of arms to take the mound for Minnesota were solid if not terrific today, but the bats could just not get it done all series. They were held to a total of six runs on 13 hits in dropping all three games to the Tigers, and this came after scoring a combined five times in the final two games at Cleveland.
No rest for the wicked, as the Twins will return to Target Field and begin an eight-game homestand tomorrow night. The red-hot White Sox will visit for three games, and then following a day off, these Tigers will be in town for five contests in four days, beginning with a doubleheader on Friday.
Up next for the good guys? Only Lucas Giolito, who tossed a no-hitter in his most recent outing. He will toe the rubber for the White Sox tomorrow night against Rich Hill (1-1, 3.55) in a 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch from Target Field.
Jorge Polanco: 2-4, HR
Kenta Maeda: 6.0 IP, 3 ER
Caleb Thielbar: 2.0 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER, 4K
Miguel Sano: 0-3, 3K
Luis Arraez: 0-4
LaMonte Wade Jr: 0-3, K