After falling behind 3-0 in the fourth inning, the Detroit Tigers had been outscored 14-0 in their last 13 innings against the Minnesota Twins. Apparently, that was the "I've had all I can stands, and I can't stands no more" point for the men of the Old English D.
Marcus Thames began the Tigers' half of the fourth inning with a deep shot to left-center field, his fourth homer off Scott Baker in 19 career at-bats. Baker then gave up four hits to the next six Detroit batters, resulting in another three runs and a 4-3 Tigers lead. Miguel Cabrera added to that lead one inning later with a two-run blast, and Baker was out of the game one batter later.
But with their foothold in the AL Central slipping away, the Twins fought hard in this series. They came back to tie the game by scoring runs in the sixth and seventh innings, depriving Jarrod Washburn of his first win with Detroit.
Ultimately, however, the Tigers showed they can also battle when their division lead is threatened. Against Matt Guerrier, who came into today's game with a 1.99 ERA and an American League-leading 22 holds (think of that stat what you will), the bottom of the lineup broke through with a Gerald Laird double. Ramon Santiago bunted him over to third base, setting up Placido Polanco to drive Laird in with a tie-breaking RBI single (his third hit of the day).
Clete Thomas added another run to the lead by driving in Curtis Granderson (who'd been intentionally walked in front of Polanco). That extra run turned out to be the difference in the game when Fernando Rodney served up a homer to Michael Cuddyer (who looked to be sitting on a change-up) - his second of the game - that cut the margin to one. Rodney got Delmon Young to follow up with a grounder to third, and Brandon Inge made what's become a typically spectacular play, bare-handing the ball, throwing on the run, and just beating Young to first for the final out of the game.
This was a tough three games, as virtually any series with the Twins is. But today's victory gave the Tigers a series win over the Twins and a 5-2 homestand. Combine tthat with the White Sox's loss to the Indians, and Detroit takes a three-game lead into a four-game series at Fenway Park vs. the Red Sox. Not a bad weekend.
Maybe those Mariners fans who warned us about Washburn's "shiny" ERA were onto something, after all. Maybe Comerica Park plays smaller than Safeco Field. Or perhaps any fly ball was dangerous on a hot day at the ballpark, especially when a pitcher leaves fastballs out over the plate or hangs a sinker right down the middle. The back-to-back homers Washburn gave up to Cuddyer and Young in the fourth were surface-to-air missiles sent into the centerfield shrubbery.
In two starts with the Tigers, Washburn has given up 11 runs and 16 hits (four of them home runs) in 11.1 innings. Maybe Detroit will win the AL Central in spite of him? Probably still too early to say, though, isn't it?
Comment of the Day:
first career save