The Detroit Tigers used home run power to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3, wining in come-from-behind fashion. It was the fourth consecutive victory for the surging Tigers, who are 5-1 on their current home stand.
Max Scherzer (3-0) pitched into the eighth inning for the Tigers, earning the victory. Joaquin Benoit (S2) faced one batter in the ninth to nail down his second save of the season.
The Tigers' pitching staff reached double-digit strikeouts for the fourth straight game, all 10 tonight compiled by Scherzer.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey (2-3) was knocked out of the game after 5 1/3 innings, allowing all four Tigers runs, taking the loss.
All the Tigers runs scored on home runs. Andy Dirks hit a solo shot in the third, while Fielder added his three-run game-winner in the sixth.
Two down in the first inning, Scherzer faced Josh Willingham, who leads the Twins in both home runs and RBIs with four and 12, respectively. You can make it five and 13 when Willingham drilled Scherzer's 94-mile-per-hour fastball into the left-field seats, a no-doubt shot giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers threatened but failed to score against Pelfrey in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Jackson led off with a single, Miguel Cabrera drawing a one-out walk. But Prince Fielder popped up and Victor Martinez sent a can of corn to left, ending the inning.
The first "Twins Hit" of the night set up another Minnesota scoring opportunity in the second. Trevor Plouffe singled with one down. Chris Parmelee beat out a swinging bunt. Cabrera charged, but was unable to pull the ball out of his glove cleanly allowing Parmelee to beat the throw.
Scherzer hurt his own cause, wild-pitching both runners into scoring position. The wild pitch set allowed Plouffe to score on Aaron Hicks' bouncer to Fielder, Twins up 2-0.
Bottom of the third, Andy Dirks' long dormant bat returned. Owning only one extra-base hit coming into the game, he doubled his output with one swing. Breaking an 0-for-9 streak, Dirks yanked a Pelfrey mid-80s breaking ball over the wall in right for his first home run of the season, pulling the Tigers to within a run at 2-1. (MLB.com video)
Parmelee continued to be a thorn in Scherzer's side. Top of fourth and one down, the Twins' number-five hitter clubbed a one-out double over the head of Jackson, the long fly ball landing in the Bermuda Triangle in right center, just short of the scoreboard.
With two down, Scherzer busted Oswaldo Arcia on the fists, nearly throwing a mid-90s fastball by him. But Arcia got enough of the ball to slice a seeing-eye double which landed just inside fair territory in short left. Parmelee scored, the Twins using BABIP as a weapon to take a 3-1 lead.
The Twins continued burning the Tigers with "Twins Hits" in the fifth. Pedro Florimon single-handedly created a scoring threat by dropping a perfect drag bunt past a sprawling Scherzer for a lead-off single, then stealing second.
Scherzer would pitch out of the no-out jam by setting down the next three Twins in order, including strikeouts of Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer. They were K victims three and four for Scherzer on the night.
The bottom of the fifth was your typical Tigers-Twins game in one painful-to-watch nutshell.
Alex Avila led off the inning with a single, breaking an 0-for-10 skein. Omar Infante followed by smoking a two-hopper to Florimon at short, knocking him over. Florimon started a 6-4-3 double play from the seat of his pants.
With two down, Don Kelly's fly ball to deep-right center found the gap for a triple. But Donnie Baseball was left stranded when Jackson flew out to the warning track in right.
Dirks gave the Twins a little of their own Twins Hit medicine leading off the bottom of the sixth, dropping a perfect bunt down the third-base line for a single. Refusing to give Cabrera anything to hit, Pelfrey walked him on a 3-2 pitch.
Pitching around Cabrera made sense, in that a slumping Fielder was hitting .125 on the home stand. Unfortunately for Pelfrey, the slump ended with a blast.
First pitch swinging, Fielder smashed Pelfrey's 90-mile-per-hour fastball to the deepest reaches of Comerica Park for a three-run homer. (MLB.com video) The big fly cleared the fence near the flag pole in left center over 425 feet from home plate. Fielder's sixth home run of the season gave the Tigers their first lead of the game at 4-3.
Having given up the lead, Pelfrey wasn't long for the game. The next batter, Jhonny Peralta, doubled into the left-field corner.
Ron Gardenhire called for lefty Brian Duensing out of the pen, ending Pelfrey's night after 5 1/3 innings. Duensing would end the inning without further damage, but the Tigers entered the seventh with the lead.
Scherzer was still bringing the heat in the seventh, striking out the side while hitting 97 miles per hour on the radar. Scherzer had now retired nine consecutive Twins since Florimon's bunt single, his strikeout count rising to nine after a slow start.
Scherzer reached the eighth inning at 108 pitches, and was allowed to start the inning to face Dozier. Scherzer would nail down his third ten-strikeout game of the season, Dozier going down swinging for the first out of the inning. That was also Scherzer's fourth consecutive strikeout.
After 113 pitches (83 for strikes), Scherzer's night was over. Leyland made the call for Drew Smyly. Neither Mauer or Willingham could get the ball out of the infield, Smyly needing only nine pitches to get out of the inning.
Closer Jose Valverde was deemed unavailable, the Tigers not wanting to use him three games in a row. So with a pair of left-handed bats leading off the ninth in Justin Morneau and Parmelee, Leyland rolled the dice with his young lefty, Smyly.
Morneau bounced to Fielder for the first out.
Parmelee showed off warning-track power, but Dirks flagged down the fly ball for the second out.
The right-handed Plouffe due up, Leyland made the call for his de facto closer for the evening, Joaquin Benoit.
It only took two pitches for Benoit to nail down the save, Plouffe bouncing out 6-3.
Scherzer, Smyly and Benoit had just retired the last 15 Twins to come to the plate. Doesn't get much better than that.
The Tigers have won four straight games, pushing their record to 14-10 on the season. Barring a miracle comeback by the Royals, the victory will move the Tigers back into first place in the AL Central.
The loss ended the Twins short winning streak at two games, and drops them to .500 on the season, at 11-11, remaining in third place in the Central.
In game two of the three-game series, the Twins send Vance Worley (0-3, 6.38) to the mound to face Tigers' ace Justin Verlander (2-2, 1.95). First pitch from Comerica Park is 7:08 PM.