In some ways, Wednesday afternoon’s loss to the Detroit Tigers was a microcosm of the season.
The Twins trailed by scores of 10-0 and 13-6, yet were within a single run heading into the ninth inning. And they still managed to lose by five.
J.A. Happ started, and whatever trade value the wily veteran may have possessed may have drained away in the Target Field heat as he gave up nine earned runs in three innings pitched.
Happ gave up four hits and a walk in the second inning, allowing the Tigers to strike first and take a 2-0 lead. He came back to set Detroit down in order in the third but completely imploded in the top of the fourth without managing to retire a batter. The Tigers went single, walk, double, single, single, walk, double before manager Rocco Baldelli mercifully sent Happ to the showers.
Former Tiger Beau Burrows gave up a pair of sacrifice flies sandwiched around a Willi Castro triple that was golfed over Nick Gordon’s head in right-centerfield, and the score was suddenly 10-0.
But the Twins bounced back in short order. Miguel Sano led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to center off of Wily Peralta that bounced off the greenery on the batter’s eye. The Twins then strung together three singles before Ryan Jeffers joined the Catchers Grand Slam Club with a dinger to straightaway center, cutting the lead to 10-5.
After Andrelton Simmons made the first out of the inning, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch, chasing Peralta from the game. Brent Rooker and Jorge Polanco greeted new pitcher Kyle Funkhouser with singles to load the bases, however, and Miguel Sano lined a single to left to make it 10-6. But Trevor Larnach ran the count full before striking out with runners on second and third, and Willians Astudillo grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
The Twins put three baserunners on again in the fifth inning after Gordon reached on an error and Jeffers and Rooker both walked, but they were unable to score.
Burrows fell apart a bit in the sixth, however, giving up back-to-back walks and a double before a sacrifice fly from Willi Castro extended the lead to 12-6. The Tigers weren’t done, however, and Grayson Greiner doubled to make it a seven-run deficit for the Twins.
Minnesota came roaring back in the eighth, however. Kepler and Rooker started the inning with back-to-back solo shots. Then, Jorge Polanco walked and Sano crushed the first pitch from new pitcher Joe Jimenez into the Home Run Porch in left field — yes, the third deck — for his second homer of the game to make the score 13-10.
But — and stop me if this sounds like an infomercial all of a sudden — that’s not all. Astudillo doubled, and with two outs, Jeffers hit his second homer of the game, cutting the lead to just a single run. Josh Donaldson pinch-hit for Simmons and walked, but Kepler was called out on strikes to end the inning.
With something of a depleted bullpen, Baldelli stuck with Juan Minaya for his third inning of relief. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well. After he struck out Harold Castro on three pitches, he walked Greiner. Then, former Twin Akil Baddoo struck out, and it looked like Minaya may be able to keep the deficit at a single run.
But Derek Hill singled and Robbie Grossman walked on four pitches to load the bases. A pair of doubles plated four more runs for Detroit, and the lead ballooned back to 17-12.
The Twins weren’t done putting balls in seats, however. Rooker led started the ninth with a walk, and Jorge Polanco joined the party with a two-run homer. But Sano and Larnach both struck out and Astudillo grounded out to third base to end the slugfest.
- Happ was ... not good. Officially three innings pitched, although seven of his nine earned runs allowed came with no outs in the fourth inning. He gave up 10 hits and four walks in three-plus innings while throwing 88 pitches. Yikes.
- The bullpen is clearly taxed after five pitchers were used in Tuesday’s 11-inning affair. Five pitchers were used in Monday’s win, as well. But man, three innings out of Minaya is not what you want to see.
- Sano’s eighth-inning home run went 473 feet and was 115 miles per hour off the bat, per the Bally Sports North broadcast. It was absolutely mashed.
- This game also underscored both the offensive upside that this team had/has, as well as the major pitching issues.
- Miguel Sano: 3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB
- Willians Astudillo: 3-for-6, 2B R
- Ryan Jeffers: 2-for-3, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB
- J.A. Happ: 3 IP, 9 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 2 K
- Beau Burrows: 3 IP, 4 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, K
- Juan Minaya: 3 IP, 4 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K
- Could have made it easier and just said “Twins pitching”, huh?