The Twins need to manage to avoid three more losses in order to keep from racking up 90 on the season.
With the last two series of the season coming against Detroit and Kansas City, the Twins even have a real chance to get out of last place in the A.L. Central. While it’s all psychological at this point, performances such as the back-to-back showings against the Tigers this week will certainly get it done.
After a scoreless top of the first by the Tigers, the Twins opened the bottom of the frame with consecutive singles from Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco parked the first pitch he saw from Tigers starter Casey Mize into the grass in straight-away center.
As it turned out, the Twins used up four of their seven hits on the night in the first inning. But it didn’t matter, because Michael Pineda was fantastic.
All told, Big Mike threw 5 2⁄3 innings of one-run ball. Detroit’s only score off of Pineda came after a leadoff single from Old Friend Robbie Grossman in the fourth, followed by a Miguel Cabrera hit-by-pitch and a Jeimer Candelario fly out that advanced Grossman to third base. Then, Harold Castro hit a liner off of Pineda’s right thigh. Pineda recovered to force-out Cabrera at second while Grossman scored. Big Mike was fine, because he is big, and he struck out Eric Haase to finish the inning.
The Twins bullpen continued to throw the ball well in the middle-ish innings. Juan Minaya entered the game with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth inning and induced a groundout from Old Friend Niko Goodrum to get out of the jam. Minaya gave up a walk in the seventh but Tyler Duffey came in to strike out Grossman. Duffey pitched a scoreless top of the eighth as well, hitting Castro with a pitch but allowing no other baserunners.
The home squad pushed across a couple of insurance runs in the eighth after Buxton was hit by a pitch. He subsequently stole second base and advanced to third on an error. After a Polanco strikeout, Josh Donaldson walked on a full count and Max Kepler singled to plate Buxton. After a Miguel Sano walk, Nick Gordon stroked a sacrifice fly to center and the Twins had extended their led to 5-1.
The Tigers weren’t quite done, however. After Alex Colomé struck out Goodrum, he hit Daz Cameron with a pitch and allowed a single to Old Friend Akil Baddoo. Then, Old Friend Jonathan Schoop drove in a run with a single to center. Representing the tying run, however, Grossman flew out and Cabrera grounded out to end the game.
- Don’t look now, but the top of the Twins lineup kinda sorta looks like it was supposed to, as Arraez, Buxton, Polanco, and Donaldson have all turned in reasonable offensive seasons. The Twins obviously expected a bit more out of Arraez and Donaldson and Buxton has missed a ton of games, but it’s still encouraging to see the offense wake up a bit over the last few weeks.
- The Twins' middle-inning relievers continue to impress. Minaya has his ERA down to 2.56 and Duffey’s is down to 3.26. Oh, Duff, where was this in May and June??
- Holy hit-by-pitches. There were a total of five in this game, with three Tigers and two Twins players getting plunked.
- Colomé continues to be an adventure. That is all I’d like to say about Alexander.
- The Twins are now 71-87 and simply need to go 2-2 over their final four games to avoid the dreaded 90-loss season. Please, oh please, let this happen. It doesn’t matter, but... it does. It absolutely does matter.
- Michael Pineda: 5 2⁄3 IP, ER, 8 H, 5 K, 0 BB
- Jorge Polanco: 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, BB
- Luis Arraez: 2-for-4, R
- Josh Donaldson: 2-for-3, R, BB
- Byron Buxton: 1-for-3, 2 R, SB
- You really think I was going to name a dud in my last game recap of this massively disappointing 2021 campaign?
- Think again.