Tigers 4, Twins 3: J.D. Martinez sacrifice fly gives Detroit walk-off victory, series win

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers coughed up a 2-0 lead, but came back to win in walk-off fashion on J.D. Martinez's sacrifice fly. Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the victory.

The Detroit Tigers defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in walk-off fashion, thanks to J.D. Martinez's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth. The walk-off victory allowed Detroit to take 2-of-3 over Minnesota, only the second series win for the Tigers since mid-May.

Rick Porcello earned nothing more than a no-decision, but pitched well. Porcello tossed seven full innings, allowing three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five. All three runs and four of the hits came in Porcello's one rocky inning, the sixth.

The Tigers' bullpen bounced back from an awful game on Saturday to shut out the Twins over the final two innings. Joba Chamberlain pitched a hitless eighth for Detroit. Struggling closer Joe Nathan (W, 3-2) earned the win by pitching a scoreless ninth inning, despite allowing two hits.

Twins starter Ricky Nolasco was in and out of trouble through most of his 5 1/3 innings, scattering nine hits while allowing three runs. Casey Fien (L, 3-3), the last of four Twins' pitchers, was the hard-luck loser, tagged with an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth.

Along with J.D. Martinez's game-winning RBI, Victor Martinez led the Tigers' offense by reaching base five times, including an RBI double in the first. Nick Castellanos drove in a pair of runs with a sacrifice fly and an RBI double. Ian Kinsler added a pair of hits and a run scored.

Josh Willingham, Kendrys Morales and Kurt Suzuki supplied all the Twins' offense in a span of four batters in the sixth. Willigham had an RBI double, Morales and Suzuki followed with RBI singles, capping off the Twins' scoring.

The victory gives the Tigers two straight wins. They have won 3-of-4 and are playing .500 ball over their last ten games. That's definitely a step in the right direction.

ROARS:

Victor Martinez: Reached base five times via a sun-aided RBI double, single, a pair of walks and Oswaldo Arcia's ninth-inning error. Martinez is having a remarkable offensive season, hitting .333/.389/.610.

Rick Porcello: Dominated over five innings, allowing just one hit. But the wheels fell off in the sixth, Porcello serving up four hits and three runs. The damage would have been minimized in the inning if Alex Avila cleanly fields J.D. Martinez's throw home. Overall, it was a solid seven-inning quality start for Porcello, charged in the end with three runs on five hits.

Nick Castellanos: The rookie third baseman entered today with a 1.037 OPS for the month of June, and followed up yesterday's three-hit game with a sacrifice fly and an RBI double.

J.D. Martinez: Did what you need to do in the bottom of the ninth, with less than two out and the game-winning run on third base -- get the ball into the outfield.  Martinez wins the game thanks to a walk-off sacrifice fly to center (MLB.com video).

Joba Chamberlain: Another scoreless outing for Yukon Cornelius.

Ian Kinsler: Two hits and a big defensive play in the ninth inning. Kinsler was on a 1-for-22 skid, but is 5-for-10 over the past two games.

HISSES:

Torii Hunter: His slide continues with an 1-for-5 afternoon. The only thing salvaging Hunter's day was a ninth-inning single, leading to his scoring the game-winning run. I have to question the wisdom of using Hunter and his .286 OBP as your number-two hitter.

Alex Avila: In the sixth inning, Kendrys Morales should have been dead to rights by 20 feet. But Avila couldn't handle the in-between hop on J.D. Martinez's on-target throw. Instead of an inning-ending out, it allowed the Twins to take a 3-2 lead.

The sixth inning: The game tied at 3-all on Castellanos' RBI double, the Twins decided to load the bases with one out by giving Avila an intentional walk. The move worked, Eugenio Suarez (first-pitch swinging) and Kinsler popping up to strand three.

Somehow the Tigers did win, but the point still stands. The Tigers let several scoring opportunities go to waste.

NOTES:

The game tied at 3-all in the eighth inning, Brian Dozier tried to bunt his way on base for Minnesota. He was out on a bang-bang play. This is the same Dozier who leads the Twins in home runs with 15. He's also the only Twin with double digit home runs. I think the Tigers were more than happy with his decision to bunt. I don't think the Twins were happy with his diving into the first-base bag, almost getting spiked by Chamberlain.

Oswaldo Arcia, the Twins' right fielder, had a brutal series defensively. Today's game is one he'll hope to forget. Arcia started the day by losing Victor Martinez's first-inning fly ball in the sun, turning what should have been an inning-ending out into an RBI double. Arcia capped off his afternoon by missing Martinez's fly ball on the warning track in right, setting up the game-winning rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Joe Nathan didn't fool anyone, needed his defense to turn a couple of hard-hit balls into outs, didn't record a single swing and miss while facing five batters, and allowed two hits. But Nathan didn't allow a run, earning the victory thanks to the Tigers' ninth-inning rally.

Torii Hunter had a brutal afternoon until the ninth inning -- three ground outs and a can of corn. But leading off the ninth, Hunter's ground ball found the hole in the left side, kick-starting the game-winning rally. He would ultimately score the winning run.

Nathan and Hunter, the two of the most derided Tigers, combined forces in the ninth inning to give the Tigers a badly needed series win against an AL Central rival.

STREAKS AND STATS:

Austin Jackson's second-inning triple was only his second extra base hit this month.

Thanks to Castellanos in the second and Martinez's game-winner in the ninth, the Tigers lead MLB with 31 sacrifice flies on the season. They were eighth in the majors with 47 in 2013.

Rick Porcello's quality start was the third straight for Detroit's rotation. It's the first time in more than a month Detroit's starting staff has pitched this well in consecutive games, going back to the sweep of the Red Sox on May 16-18.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

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