The Minnesota Twins salvaged the the finale of their three game series with the Detroit Tigers, taking an early lead, then pulling away late to roll to a 6-2 victory. The Tigers win streak ends at five games, but they kept alive their AL record streak of games with 10 strikeouts of more, four pitchers combining for 11 Ks.
Winning pitcher Scott Diamond (2-2) no-hit the Tigers for 4 1/3 innings, ultimately allowing four fits and two runs in six innings of work.
Coming off his masterful 17 strikeout performance against the Braves last week, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (3-2) was nicked for three runs in the first two innings by the Twins. Sanchez would settle down, punching out nine Twins in six innings, allowing only the three early runs, but still took the loss.
The Tigers could muster only six hits against four Twins pitchers. Miguel Cabrera was the sole Tiger with more than one hit and had the only RBI.
Two streaks were on the line for the Tigers against the Twins. The pitching staff's AL record tying four game streak of ten strikeouts or more in a game and their five game winning streak.
Only one streak would survive the afternoon. It wouldn't be the one which matters in the standings
Sanchez started the game right where he left off on Friday, striking out the first two Twins he faced. But his command was not nearly the same as it was on Friday night.
One strike away from ending the inning, Sanchez would walk Josh Willingham. Then the Twins got annoying.
Sanchez once again one strike away from getting out of the inning unscathed, Justin Morneau sliced a 3-2 pitch into the left field corner, the RBI double giving the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Ryan Doumit drew a base on balls. Parmelee looped a Twins Hit into short left. Matt Tuiasosopo came up firing, making a perfect throw to Pena to nail Morneau ... if Pena had held onto the ball. Tuiasosopo's throw made it to Pena on the fly, and would have had Morneau by a couple of feet, but Pena out and out dropped the ball while trying to make the tag. Parmelee was credited with an RBI single, the Twins taking a 2-0 lead.
Sanchez would finally get the third out on Oswaldo Arcia's bouncer. It would take Sanchez 41 pitches (21 strikes) to get out of the first inning. Not the start the Tigers wanted to see with their depleted bullpen.
The Tigers would put together their own two out threat in the bottom of the inning. Miguel Cabrera was hit by a pitch (replays showed otherwise, the umpire buying Cabrera's acting job to Ron Gardnehire's dismay), Prince Fielder drawing a walk. Unlike the Twins, the Tigers couldn't capitalize, Victor Martinez flying out to center to end the inning.
The dreaded Twins Hits set a second inning rally in motion for the Twins. Pedro Florimon's dribbler found the hole in the right side for a one out single. Two down and Florimon going on the pitch, Jamey Carroll's ground ball was just inside the third base bag, past a lunging Cabrera. The Twins Hit RBI double plated Florimon and pushed the Twins' lead to 3-0.
While all the above was happening, Sanchez was also striking out the side, giving his five on the day. He also ended the second inning with a pitch count of 56.
The luck Gods stayed on the Twins side in the bottom of the inning. Leading off, Tuiasosopo drilled a line shot which appeared to be headed into center field. Instead, the liner hit Scott Diamond in the leg, who was able to recover quickly enough to throw out Tuiasosopo by half a step.
It was going to be one of those games...
Doumit's one out Twins Hit and stolen base be damned, Sanchez finally kept the Twins off the scoreboard in the third. Could the Tigers' luck be changing?
Not so far, at least at the plate. Diamond ended the third inning having retired seven straight Tigers and had yet to allow a hit,.
Sanchez had his first completely low-stress inning in the fourth, but had a pitch count of 91 hovering over him. The end of his day was quickly nearing.
But Daimond kept the Tigers completely under his control, setting down the middle of the order without issue in the bottom of the fourth. Diamond had now retired 10 straight and not yet allowed a hit.
Sanchez had found his bearings by the middle of the fifth, having tossed another 1-2-3 inning. He had struck out seven, retired eight straight and 10 of 11 since allowing Carroll's RBI double in the 2nd. But, pitch count. He was sitting at 105 pitches, so Darin Downs was warming up in the pen.
At least there would be no no-no for Diamond.
One down in the bottom of the fifth, Jhonny Peralta lashed a 1-1 pitch into right for a hard hit single, the Tigers' first hit of the day and first base runner since Fielder walked in the first inning.
But trying to make something happen, Leyland called the hit and run with Pena at the plate. Once again, luck intervened for the Twins. Daimond's pitch was well out of the strike zone, Pean could only wave at it and Peralta was dead to rights at second.
Hoping to squeeze one more inning out of Sanchez, Leyland sent him out to start the sixth. Sacchez ended the sixth having retired 11 straight Twins, with nine strikeouts, at 115 pitches and having been given the "Handshake of Doom" by Leyland.
It took several innings for the Dynamic Duo at the top of the order to change the tone of the game. They woke up in the sixth.
One down, Austin Jackson ripped a double down the left field line, both the first extra-base hit and Tigers base runner to reach second.
He wasn't there long.
Torii Hunter followed by sending a liner through the right side, the RBI single putting the Tigers on the board. Smartly, Hunter advanced to second on the throw home. Hunter's smart base running paid off, as he easily scored on Cabrera's RBI double off the wall in left,
Cabrea took third on Fielder's ground ball to the right side. Martinez almost tied the game at 3-all, his double attempt landing just foul. Diamond would get out of the inning when Martinez grounded to second.
But the Tigers' offense had woken from a game long slumber with three hits and two runs, making the Twins sweat, trailing only 3-2.
Fire-balling rookie Bruce Rondon took over for Sanchez in the seventh. Even though he was touching triple digits on the radar gun, Aaron Hicks pulled a fastball into the right field corner for a lead off triple.
The infield pulled in, Florimon bounced another 100 MPH fastball back up the middle for an RBI single. Two batters into the inning, Rondon had given back a run, the Twins back up 4-2.
The Twins knowing the Royals ran at will against Rondon in his last appearance, Florimon immediately stealing second. With one down, still struggling to throw strikes, Rondon gave Carroll a free pass on four pitches, the walked Willingham on five, loading the bases.
Leyland was forced to pull Rondon for Darin Downs, wanting both the lefty-lefty matchup with Morneau and not realyl having any alternatives.
Morneau greeted downs by looping Twins Hit over Peralta, the RBI single pushing the Twins' lead back to three runs at 5-2.
Downs kept the damage to a minimum thanks to Cabrera starting an around-the-horn 5-4-3 douible play off the bat of Doumit. Downs got the double play he needed, just one batter too late.
Yep, it was one of those games...
The Tigers were unable to counter in the bottom of the seventh against ex-Tiger Casey Fien, going down in order.
Parmelee tacked on an insurance run off Downs in the top of the eighth, clobbering a no-doubt solo shot to deep right. His second home run of the season pushed the Twins' lead to 6-2, which would be your final score.
Game essentially over.
The newest Tiger, just called up Jose Ortega, made a far better impression than Rondon. Ortega pitched the ninth, retiring the Twins in order, striking out two. The two punchouts also gave the Tigers the AL record for most consecutive games by a pitching staff with 10 or more strikeouts with six.
Cabrera and Fielder made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth against Twins closer Glen Perkins in a non-save situation, leading off with back-to back singles.
But all hope was extinguished when Carroll nabbed Martinez's hard hit ground ball to third, and quickly turning a 5-4-3 double play.
Game over ... as was a really damn good home stand. The Tigers head back on the road after going 6-2 at home, winning two series and splitting the other.
I'll take it.
The Tigers' winning streak over at five games, they fall to 15-11 on the season. The 14-10 Royals lead the Tigers by .007 pf a percentage point ( .583 to .576) in the AL Central.
The Twins are back at .500, a level 12-12, 2 1/2 back in third place.
The Tigers now hit the road for six games against the Astros and Nationals, starting with four in Houston beginning tomorrow night. Rick Porcello (1-2) will face a pitcher to be determined, the Astros yet to announce their starter. First pitch is 8:10 PM.