Twins 6, Tigers 3: Late comeback falls short, Tigers' pitching has no answer for Justin Morneau

Duane Burleson

Justin Morneau led the Twins to victory with four hits and four RBIs. An ineffective Rick Porcello was yanked after 4 1/3 innings, Prince Fielder supplying the majority of the Tigers' offense with a home run and two RBIs.

Justin Morneau had four hits and drove in four runs, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 6-3 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Post game, the Tigers announced Phil Coke was sent to Triple-A Toledo to work on his command. The team also confirmed the veteran left-hander will be back in September. Taking Coke's roster spot will be rookie left-hander Jose Alvarez, who was recently sent down after a spot start in last Friday's doubleheader with the Royals. Alvarez will be used out of the bullpen.

Twins' starter and winner Mike Pelfrey (5-10) entered the game with an ERA of 5.26, but held the Tigers to three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. Closer Glen Perkins allowed the game-tying run to come to the plate in Miguel Cabrera, but struck out MLB's leading hitter to earn his 29th save.

Rick Porcello pitched well for three innings, but was unable to get out of the fifth, taking the loss. Porcello was pulled after 4 1/3 innings, rocked for five runs and seven hits. Phil Coke didn't retire a either batter he faced, allowing a two RBI double. The final three Tigers' relievers combined to hold the Twins to one run and two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.

The Tigers could do little to stop Morneau, who had four hits on the night, including a home run and double, driving in four runs. Pedro Florimon added a solo home run for the winners.

Prince Fielder supplied the majority the Tigers' offense with a solo home run and RBI ground out. Austin Jackson added an RBI single. The Tigers were actually outhit the Twins 11-10, but just couldn't get the big base knock when needed.

The Tigers looked out sorts and all but out of it when down 6-1. Yet, in the bottom of the ninth they had the game-tying run at the plate in Miguel Cabrera. Even when they don't play well, the Tigers are rarely out of the game.

After both teams were retired in order in the first inning, the Twins had the first hit and threat in the second.

Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit led off the second with back-to-back singles off Rick Porcello, but that was as far as either Twin would go. Porcello recorded his third (!) strikeout when ex-Tiger Wlikin Ramirez went down swinging. Trevor Plouffe ended the minor threat, Miguel Cabrera turning his high chopper into a 5-3 double play.

Bottom of two and one  out, Victor Martinez became the first Tiger to reach base, singling off Mike Pelfrey. Andy Dirks tried bunting (ARRRGH!) his way on base, but Doumit came out from behind the plate to throw him out at first. Martinez would be stranded on second when Omar Infante popped up to end the inning.

Bottom of three, the Tigers scratched together a one rally on back-to-back singles to right off the bats of Jose Iglesias and Austin Jackson. But Torii Hunter bounced into an easy 6-4-3 double play, nipping any rally in the bud.

"I have to tip my hat to Pelfrey. I thought he threw terrific." "We got beat." -Jim Leyland, in praise of the Twins

Through three innings, both teams had bouncing into an inning ending double play with a runner in scoring position.

Top of the fourth, it would be the Twins who would take the first lead of the game. Chris Herrmann, a late replacement for Joe Mauer, beat out a swinging bunt (the human element at work, replay showed Procello beat Herrmann to the bag in a bang-bang play). One out and Morneau at the plate, Procello wild pitched Herrmann into scoring position. Morneau did the rest of the work, golfing a change up off his shoe tops, resulting in a wall-scraper which found the first row of seats at the 365' mark in right center. Morneau's 15th home run giving the Twins a 2-0 advantage.

Porcello would get the second out, but had trouble ending the inning. Ramirez reached on the second Twins Hit of the inning, an infield single into the hole in the left side. Ramirez would score all the way from first when Plouffe doubled into the left field corner. The Tigers might have had a shot at Ramirez, but Dirks airmailed the first cutoff, and the second cutoff, Cabrera, was unable to handle the one-hop throw.

By the time Porcello ended the inning, he had doubled his pitch count from 35 to 70 and the Twins were holding a 3-0 lead.

Make it 3-1. One down in the bottom half of the fourth, Prince Fielder put the Tigers on the board. The big man crushed Pelfrey's first pitch, a hanging breaking ball, buggy-whipping a line shot well over the right field wall. Home run number 20 for Fielder was his third in six games, pulling the Tigers within two of the Twins (MLB.com video).

Pelfrey would walk Dirks before getting out of further trouble on Infante;s hard hit liner to Clete Thomas in center. After four full innings, the Tigers trailed the Twins, 3-1.

Top of five, two walks and a Twins Hit led to Porcello being pulled from the game with one out and bases loaded. The road to the bench started with a pitching sin, a lead off walk to the number nine hitter, in this case Pedro Florimon. Brian Dozier reached base when he singled off the glove of a diving Cabrera. After the Twins gave the Tigers a free out on Herrmann's sacrifice bunt, Porcello's night came to an end when he walked Josh Willingham.

With the bases loaded and Morneau at the plate, Jim Leyland wanted the lefty-lefty match up. Unfortunately, the lefty he called out of the pen was Phil Coke, the LOOGY who can't get lefties out consistently. Morneau smoked the first pitch he saw from Coke into the gap in right center for a two RBI double.

Twp runners in scoring position and boos raining down, Coke issued an intentional pass to Doumit before receiving the hook. Leyland replaced the LOOGY who isn't with Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman would get out of the bases loaded jam, but needed a little luck. Ramirez hit a line drive on the screws, but it was right at Cabrera. Two out, Plouffe went down swinging to end the inning.

But the Twins had sent eight to the plate, scoring two runs on two hits and three walks, upping their lead to 5-1.

A bad game got worse for the Tigers in the top of the sixth. The .216 hitting Florimon sent a high fly over the wall in the right for his eighth home run of the season, pushing the Twins' lead to 6-1.

For all accounts, the game appeared over. But the Tigers would hang tough and make things interesting late.

Bottom of six, Hunter led off the inning by slashing a line drive down the right field line, Herrmann playing a double into a gift triple by allowing the ball to scoot past him. Pelfrey retired Cabrera for a third straight at bat, Hunter held at the bag on a ground ball to third. The infield back, the Twins electing to give up a run for an out, Fielder earned his second RBI when Hunter scored on a ground ball to short. The Tigers were still down 6-2 as the game reached the seventh.

Top of seven, Bonderman was still in the game for the Tigers. He wasn't particularly sharp, allowing the home run and a pair of walks, but was holding the Twins at bay in his 2 2/3 innings of work.

But Bonderman keeping the Twins within reach wouldn't mean a thing if the Tigers couldn't get to Pelfrey. The Twins' starer hadn't had his ERA under 5.00 since Pelfrey allowed a pair of unearned runs over 5 1/3 innings in his first start of the season against ... you guessed it ... the Tigers.

After setting down the first two Tigers he faced in the bottom of the seventh, Pelfrey's night was ended in an ironic way. Via a pair of Twins Hits. Brayan Pena beat out a slow roller to short, Iglesias looping a soft single to shallow center. Ron Gardenhire had seen enough, pulling Pelfrey for right-hander Josh Roenicke.

Jackson greeted Roenicke with a ground ball single to center, Pena beating Thomas' throw, the Twins' lead falling to 6-3. Three straight two out hits leading to a run, the Tigers were in need of one more base runner in order to bring Cabrera to the plate with runners in scoring position. But Hunter instead ended the inning by fouling out to Morneau.

"We're not down on Phil Coke, we're just trying to get something accomplished." -Leyland, on their plans for Phil Coke

Continuing his use of the lower echelon of the bullpen, Leyland went with Al Alburquerque to start the eighth. But there was no DOOOOOM on this night, as Alburquerque had his slider working to perfection, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning. Where has the lights out reliever who doesn't walk anyone been? The 2011 version of Alburquerque only turns up infrequently, at best. At leasr he showed up tonight.

The Twins could only hold Cabrera down for so long. Hitless in three at bats against Pelfrey, leading off the eighth, Cabrera singled off  the latest Twinkies' reliever, Jared Burton. One out, Martinez lined a single to center, a gimpy Cabrera moving station-to-station. Dirks at the plate, Doumit proceeded to just plain whiff on catching  Burton's pitch, allowing both slow-of-foot runners to move into scoring position.

Dirks looked as if he would drive in a run with a bloop single to center, but Thomas came out of nowhere for a diving catch, sno-coning the ball as he laid out in short center (MLB.com video). Instead of an RBI single leaving runners on the corners with one out, there were two out with runners on first and second. Because...

Burton proceeded to get out of the jam when Infante flailed at a high and outside fastball, striking out to end the inning. Thanks to the revenge of Clete Thomas, the Twins had dodged a bullet and were still clinging to their 6-3 lead as the game entered the ninth.

Top of nine, Leyland went with the hard-throwing rookie, Bruce Rondon. Morneau did get his fourth hit of the game with a two out single, but Rondon kept the Tigers within shouting distance at three runs back.

The Tigers would have to comeback against Twins' closer Glen Perkins, 28-for-31 in save opportunities.

"You're judged upon by what you do, not what you're gonna do." -Phil Coke on being sent to Triple-A

The good? Pena led off with a line single to center off Perkins. The bad? After limping his way to first, Pena was forced to leave the game with some sort of leg or foot injury and was replaced with Bryan Holaday. Iglesias followed with a slow roller to second, forcing Holaday. Jackson did the same, sending a soft cue shot to Brian Dozier, forcing Iglesias.

Two outs and Jackson on first, Hunter needed to reach base in order to give Cabrera a shot at knotting the game up. Perkins made the one mistake he didn't want to make - he walked Hunter, bringing the best hitter in the game to the plate.

The Twins had a decision to make. Take your chances, or play for the lefty-lefty match up by walking Cabrera and loading the bases for Fielder. The Twins decided to have Perkins go after Cabrera.

There would be no dramatics tonight. Cabrera fouled off a couple of two strike pitches (looking pained) before striking out on a letter high fastball.

Game over. You final score is Twins 6, Tigers 3. Or, you could say ti was Justin Morneau 4, Twins 2, Prince Fielder 2, Tigers 1. Just one of those frustrating games we only see when the Tigers play the hated Twins.

The Tigers fall to 73-52 overall, their lead over the Indians temporarily at six games. The Tribe are on the back end of a west coast road trip, taking on the Angels late tonight. The Royals dropped their game with White Sox, and remain 8 1/2 games out of first.

Game two features a pair of right-handers, the Twins' Kevin Correia (8-9, 4.61 ERA) and the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez. Correia had a brilliant first month of the season (3-1, 2.23 ERA), then turned back into a pumpkin Twin, posting a 5-8 record with a 5.43 ERA in 19 post-April starts. Sanchez (11-7, 2.50 ERA) has tossed six straight quality starts and is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA since the All-Star break. Despite Sanchez nearly no-hitting the Twins on May 24, overall in 2013 he's only 1-1 with a pair of no-decisions versus Minnesota. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

A TOOTBLAN* tracker update! (*Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop)

The Tigers have 32 TOOTBLANs in 2013.

Rod Allen's quote of the night came during the pregame:

"Since Jim Leyland took over in 2006, the Tigers have saved their best for after the All-Star break."

Rod, I was in the stands for the final regular season game of the 2006 season. I'm still traumatized by that loss. Let's not even go into why there was a game 163.

A late scratch for the Twins was Joe Mauer. He was pulled after suffering a dizzy spell in batting practice after reportedly taking an Alex Avila-like beating (several foul tips into the mask) behind the plate Monday night. Chris Herrmann stepped into Mauer's spot in the order, playing right field. Ryan Doumit caught for the Twins. Post game, the Twins placed Mauer on the the 7-day concussion disabled list.

The Twins had a pair of ex-Tigers in their starting lineup, Clete Thomas (.227/.300/.341) and Wilkin Ramirez (268/.311/.375). Their slash numbers show why they are ex-Tigers. Of course, Ramirez would single and score a run while Thomas made a brilliant catch to put the kibosh on an eighth inning rally. Call it, "The Revenge of the Ex-Tigers."

Phil Coke, welcome to the one club no one wants to join.

Jason Beck of MLB.com did the math, Coke is now better off facing right-handed bats instead of left-handers. "Better off" being relative, of course. Coke is 18-for-66 (.273) versus right-hand bats, 20-for-69 (.290) against lefties. There's no arguing it, Coke is NOT a LOOGY. At this point, what you can argue is Coke is no longer a big league pitcher. Apparently, the Tigers aren't going to argue that point, either.

Rogo making the case for another minor league left-hander...

Robertson can't be any worse than Coke, right?

Al Alburquerque entering the game equals DOOOOOOOM, even to the scoreboard operators.

Yet Alburquerque confounded everyone, tossing a 1-2-3 inning.

As for the Tigers' catching situation if Brayan Pena is injured?

Post game, Leyland said Pena was dealing with a toe issue, but didn't expand on  the injury.

Leyland also added Miguel Cabrera was "in some pain" after his last at bat and was being checked out by the training staff.

THREE ROARS:

Prince Fielder: After a 19 game drought,Fielder's big fly gives him three homers in six games. If there's anything positive to be taken from tonight's loss, it's the return of Fielder's power. That bodes well for the remainder of the season.

Al Alburquerque: Threw 11 pitches, nine for strikes. WHAT? Where in the Hell has the good Alburquerque been hiding?

Jeremy Bonderman: Wasn't extremely sharp, but Bonderman kept the Tigers close with 2 2/3 innings of one run relief.

BONUS ROARS:

Bruce Rondon: Pitched a scoreless ninth.

The bullpen: Save for Coke, the bullpen did a fine job. Bonderman, Alburquerque and Rondon combined for 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits.

Phil Coke, post game: Just being given the bad news over his demotion, Coke could have left the locker room without talking. To Coke's credit, he spoke to the media after the game about his disappointing performance this season.

THREE HISSES:

Rick Porcello: Was excellent for three innings, then the wheels feel off completely. His numbers weren't helped by Coke allowing a pair of inherited runners to score.

Phil Coke: For some reason Jim Leyland insisted on using Coke as a LOOGY, when he can't get left-handed bats out. Actually, he's having trouble getting anyone out in anything resembling a high leverage situation. Coke had one job to do, get the left-handed Justin Morneau out. One pitch later, Porcello had two extra runs charged to him.

Omar Infante: A rare bad game for the Tigers' second baseman - 0-for-4, stranding three runners in scoring position.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 983
Total commenters 54
Commenter list AAnth, Alex Baker, Arvay7, AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, Beejeez, Bent82, BigAl, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, DetroitSports, Emil Sitka, Fielder'sChoice, Freebird, Hereford Ump, JJMcEazy, J_the_Man, Jacob30, KGW, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, MotorCityCat, NCDee, Nonsuch Ned, NorthLeft12, RedWingedLigerFan, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit, SpartanBoiler, SpartanHT, TheLegacyofJordanTata, There Can Only Be One Verlander, Tigerdog1, TomduhB, Verlanderful, WestsideTigersfan, aelix, beelze, bobrob2004, dishnet34, explosivo2k2, frisbeepilot, jonathan.onne, keepitcomplicated, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, melliemacker, rbbaker, redwingxviii, sauce1977, stevenyc, swish330, texastigerfan
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/20/4639730/game-125-twins-at-tigers-7-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/20/4642184/game-125-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 SanDiegoMick 97
2 SpartanHT 82
3 sauce1977 79
4 texastigerfan 79
5 Singledigit 72
6 Tigerdog1 71
7 swish330 60
8 BadCompany22 41
9 stevenyc 33
10 NCDee 32

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
4 SanDiegoMick Can we just Porcello this game off the schedule?
3 Alex Baker the original twin killing

GAME 124 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Miguel Cabrera reached base three times, had two hits, a home run, three RBIs and a run scored. Cabrera carried 59% of the PotG vote, beating Max Scherzer.

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