Making his first start of the season a winning one, P.J. Walters (1-0) throttled the Tigers' offense, holding them to eight hits and two runs over six innings. Glen Perkins pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save.
Tigers starter Doug Fister (5-2) was dinged for three first-inning runs, then held the Twins scoreless over the final six innings he pitched. Given little run support, Fister was tagged with the loss.
Joe Mauer continued to terrorize Tigers pitching, leading the Twins with three hits, including a solo home run. Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee had the other RBIs for the Twins.
Brayan Pena had three singles to lead a meek Tigers offense. Jhonny Peralta added a home run and Torii Hunter an RBI double.
On a day where the franchise honored the 1968 World Champs, you would hope the 2013 Tigers capped off the day with a victory. It wasn't in the cards, thanks to a stingy performance from the Twins pitching staff and Joe freaking Mauer.
After breaking up Anibal Sanchez's no-hitter in the ninth inning Friday night, Mauer continued trolling the Tigers by hitting a solo home run off of Fister with one down in the first. Mauer's third homer of the season, a fly ball just clearing the yellow line on the right field wall (video review confirmed it), gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Fister's struggles continued after the big fly. After walking Josh Willingham, Morneau drilled a Fister off-speed pitch, sending a line drive into the right-center-field gap. Don Kelly was unable to cut the ball off, Willingham scoring easily from first base.
Before Fister could finally get out of the inning, Parmelee's two-out RBI single to center pushed the Twins' lead to 3-0. Fister needed 29 pitches to retire the side. He walked one, allowing three runs on three hits, all on two-strike pitches. Not what you wanted to see after Fister was hit hard in his last start by the Rangers.
Fister rebounded nicely, only tossing nine pitches in a 1-2-3 second inning.
The bottom of the Tigers order would load the bases with two out against Walters in the bottom of the second, but the Tigers could not capitalize.
Victor Martinez singled to right, but Jhonny Peralta hit a tailor made 4-6-3 double play. Brayan Pena kept the inning alive, singling to center. Omar Infante doubled down the left field line, Pena huffed and puffed his way to third. Don Kelly worked a walk, loading the bases for the top of the order.
But Andy Dirks would have an awful at-bat, Walters striking him out on three pitches. The Tigers had three hits and a walk in the frame, yet thanks to a badly timed double play, failed to score.
After the three-run first, Fister was dodging bullets. The only 1-2-3 inning through five was the second, but he kept the score at 3-0. He needed a double play to get himself out of a two-on, none-out jam in the third. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got himself tossed by Cowboy Joe West over a interference call on the play.
On the other hand, the mediocre Walters had been channeling Cy Young. After dodging the bases loaded bullet in the second, Walters had retired nine straight Tigers until Dirks singled with two out in the bottom of the fifth.
Torii Hunter finally made Walters pay, driving a fly ball over the head of Wilkin Ramirez in deep center for an RBI double (MLB.com video). Dirks scored easily all the way from first. The Tigers were finally on the scoreboard, cutting the Twins' lead to 3-1. But Cabrera was unable drive in the second run of the inning, striking out to strand Hunter.
Despite the rough first inning, Fister ended up tossing a quality start, having allowed just the three runs through six innings. Fister had sorted things out, but could the Tigers' bats figure out Cy Walters?
Bottom of six, Peralta pulled the Tigers within one run at 3-2. He hit a rare opposite field home run with two out, a solo shot just clearing the right field wall for his fifth home run of the season. (MLB.com video)
Fitster ultimately would pitch seven full innings before receiving Jim Leyland's "Handshake of Doom." After a very shaky start, Fister held the Twins scoreless over his final six innings. Allowing just three runs should put you in decent shape for a victory. But the Tigers were still trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom half of the seventh.
Walters got the hook after six innings, lefty Brian Duensing taking over for the Twins in the bottom of the seventh. He got the first two outs of the inning, giving way to Josh Roenicke to take care of Hunter for the third out.
Luke Putkonen got the ball in relief for the Tigers,.Willingham led off with a single, and that was it for Putkonen, Phil Coke answering the bullpen phone. One finger point and two punch outs later, it was on to the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers still down 3-2. The Twins were six outs away from ending their 10-game losing streak.
Make it three outs away, Jared Burton retiring in order Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez on a can of corn and a couple of come-backers. If there was going to be a comeback, it would be up to the bottom of the batting order.
Jose Ortega got the call in the top of the ninth. He pitched himself into a two-out jam, walking Pedro Florimon, then throwing a pick-off throw into right field for a two-base error. Ortega got out of trouble by striking out Jamey Carroll.
The Tigers would have to face Twins closer Glen Perkins in the bottom of the ninth. Pena left a glimmer of hope with a one-out infield single, his third hit of the game.
After Infante flew out to right, it was all up to Avisail Garcia, who had replaced Kelly in the seventh. Perkins caught the rookie looking for strike three.
A meh game over.
The Twins were overdue to win a game. If you stop Cabrera and Fielder, your odds for victory go up considerably. And that's just what five Twins pitchers combined to do, holding the Tigers' big bats to a 1-for-8 afternoon. It happens.
It's just one game. I'll be happy to take a 3-of-4 series win from any team, which the Tigers can accomplish behind the right arm of Max Scherzer tomorrow.
In the post game, Leyland obviously pointed out the lack of offense as the reason for the Tigers' demise.
Leyland: "We just couldn’t bunch hits together. We got enough hits, we just couldn’t bunch them together." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 25, 2013
The Tigers fall to 27-20 on the season, but hold onto first place in the Central by 1/2 game over the Indians, who lost to the Red Sox this afternoon. The Twins are 19-27, finally snapping their 10-game losing streak. They remain in last place, seven games back of the Tigers.
The Twinkies will attempt to salvage a split in the series on Sunday afternoon, sending veteran right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 6.69 ERA) to the mound. Undefeated Max Scherzer (6-0, 3.61 ERA) takes the ball for the Tigers. First pitch is 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
The 1968 World Champion Tigers were honored in a pre-game ceremony. Not that you would have known it if you were watching Fox Sports Detroit. FSD cut away for commercials during the introductions, came back for Al Kaline’s short speech, cut away again to go to the studio and show more ads, and that was it. You saw far more of Shannon Hogan and Craig Monroe than anyone on the 1968 team.
Speaking of anniversaries...
The '68 championship team reunion was great and all, but I'd love to see a 10th anniversary reunion of the 2003 team.— Mike Isbored (@mike_is_bored) May 25, 2013
The baseball world has really changed in their handling of pitchers.
Mickey Lolich said he threw 182 pitches on Opening Day in 1970, then 167, then "finally got it down" to 145 in his third start.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) May 25, 2013
As if you needed more proof Joe Mauer kills the Tigers:
10th career HR for Joe Mauer at Comerica Park, his highest total at any current MLB park, including Target Field (6).— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 25, 2013
That's now 160 career hits for Joe Mauer against the Tigers, his highest total against any team. Shocking, I'm sure.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) May 25, 2013
Miguel Cabrera's first-inning single gave him an 11-game hitting streak. In his previous ten games, Cabrera is hitting a mere .462/.543/1.103 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. He was 1-for-4 this afternoon.
Rod Allen quote of the day: "Both Jim and Don live in Pittsburgh during the off-season." In the game thread, JerseyTigerFan had the comeback of the day: " Likely in the same house."
Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire got himself tossed in the third inning after the Tigers turned a 3-6-1 double play. Josh Willingham was called out for interference by Cowboy Joe West on his slide into second (the call was very questionable). The runner on second was forced to remain there instead of advancing to third. Justin Morneau was out regardless, Doug Fister scooping a low throw. Considering the Twins had lost ten in a row, there was likely more to Gardenhire getting the thumb than just getting in some well deserved digs at West over a borderline, at best, interference call.
It was the 64th ejection of Gradenhire's career, and the third courtesy of Cowboy Joe.
Doug Fister HBP count: A league-leading 11 on the year after plunking ex-Tiger Wilkin Ramirez in the fourth. Matt Sussman came up with a composite GIF of Fister pitches:
Left fielder Willingham and center fielder Ramirez collided when catching a fly ball to end the sixth. What was odd about the play was that it went down in left field in front of the bullpens. Somehow Ramirez crashed into Willingham on a ball which was the left fielder's all the way, but still caught and held on to the ball. Ramirez took the brunt of the collision, laying on the turf for several minutes before leaving the field under his own power, but his day was over. It was one of the weirder plays you'll ever see just for the crazy distance Ramirez had to cover to get himself nearly knocked cold.
Willingham's eighth-inning single was the first hit Luke Putkonen allowed this season.
With the loss, the Tigers are now 5-7 in one-run games, and just 5-16 when scoring four runs or less.
After the game, Jim Leyland informed the media that Alex Avila would be back in the starting lineup Sunday afternoon. But we'll still be seeing lots of Brayan Pena.
Leyland on Avila/Pena: "We’re trying that a little bit, one on and one off, to see if we can get him (Avila) going a little bit."— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) May 25, 2013
Doug Fister: Looked to be well on his way to a HISS after the Twins hung up a three spot in the first inning. But Fister would pitch seven solid innings, posting a quality start.
Brayan Pena: Continues to rake, a 3-for-4 day raising his average to .328.
Jhonny Peralta: Hitting a home run has to count for something. Today, it counts for a ROAR.
The Tigers' offense: P.J. Walters and his career 6.39 ERA shut down the Tigers, allowing just two runs. It was one of those days where the Tigers made a journeyman look like Cy Young reincarnate. The Twins bullpen did the rest, tossing three shutout innings, allowing just a ninth inning single.
Fox Sports Detroit: For their shameful "coverage" of the 1968 Tigers 45th anniversary ceremony. I want to see Al Kaline, not Craig Monroe.
The Minnesota Twins: I hate them.
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Anibal Sanchez, of course.