Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister no-hit the Minnesota Twins for five innings, Detroit ultimately holding on for a 5-2 victory. Brian Dozier broke up Fister's no-hit bid with a sixth-inning home run. Torii Hunter wrapped up his Minnesota homecoming with two hits, three RBI and his 300th home run, all coming against the team with which he spent the first 11 seasons of his career.
Fister (6-4) won for the first time since May 14 (he was 0-3, 2.67 in his last four starts), allowing two hits and two runs, striking out seven over 7 2/3 innings. Rather than go with Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, receiving credit for his fourth save. Losing pitcher P.J. Walters (2-2) was rocked for nine hits, two homers and four runs.
Joining Hunter in the hit parade was Asutin Jackson, who had a pair of hits, including a fourth-inning two-run homer. Alex Avila and Omar Infante chipped in with two hits each. The Twins could muster just three hits, two for Dozier, Clete Thomas adding an RBI single in the eighth.
But the stories of the day were Fister's bid for a no-hitter and Hunter making history in his old stomping grounds. Both combined to make it a memorable Father's Day for the Tigers and their fans.
Hunter celebrated both the holiday and his return to Minnesota by giving the Tigers a first-inning lead with the 300th home run of his celebrated career.
Jackson started the game with single and steal of second. First pitch swinging against Walters, Hunter drilled his third home run of the season, a line-drive two-run shot to left (MLB.com video). Number 300 gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Miguel Cabrera followed the homer by singling, but Prince Fielder put a stop to the rally when he bounced into an easy 6-4-3 Twin killing. Walters would also give up a single to Victor Martinez before pitching out of further trouble.
Alex Avila snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a two-out double in the second. Jackson couldn't increase the Tigers' lead, bouncing out to third to end the inning.
The Tigers were flashing glove leather to help out Fister early on, who held the Twins hitless through three innings. Martinez made a diving stop to rob former Detroit cult leader Clete Thomas of a hit in the second. Andy Dirks made a fine running catch in the left-field corner to take an extra base hit away from Oswaldo Arcia in the third.
Avila and Jackson combined on a fourth-inning rally which allowed the Tigers to tack on two more runs to their lead. Avila reached base with two out for the second straight at-bat with a single. This time, Jackson was able to drive Avila home, drilling the Tigers' second two-run homer of the game. Jackson absolutely unloaded on Walters' off-speed pitch, delivering a no-doubt shot into the second deck in left field for his third homer of the season and a 4-0 Tigers lead. (MLB.com video).
Two down in the fourth, Fister allowed his first base runner, walking Ryan Doumit on a 3-1 breaking ball. Justin Morneau ending another hitless inning for the Twins by bouncing out to second. The perfect game bid was over, but the no-hit bid was still alive.
Fifth inning, Fister remained on a hitless roll, setting down the Twins in order, including strikeouts of Arcia and Chris Parmelee. For the second time in less than a month, a Tigers pitcher was threatening to no-hit the Twins.
The Tigers disposed of Walters in the bottom half of the fifth. Jhonny Peralta led off the inning with a base on balls. One down and Trevor Plouffe playing deep at third, Omar Infante dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single.
Hoping to remain in shouting distance of the Tigers, Rob Gardenhire yanked Walters for right-hander Anthony Swarzak. The Tigers took a big chance by sending the runners with Aviia at the plate. It was a very odd call (one, the Tigers were up by four - two, hit and run with the badly slumping Avila?) which blew up in a very bad way. The inning ended with a "strike 'em out, throw 'em out." Avila swung an missed, Peralta was an easy out, caught attempting to steal third.
It would figure that after the Tigers ran themselves out of an inning, the Twins would break up both Fister's no-hitter and shutout. Brian Dozier yanked a Fister 1-0 pitch over the wall in left, his fourth big fly of the season making it a 4-1 game.
Fister would get out of the sixth with a one-hitter, despite allowing a couple of line drives. Thomas lined to first and Mauer to center, ending the inning.
By the seventh, the Tigers looked to be done scoring (that's the recent trend, anyway). Swarzak was pitching well, retiring the side in order.
Fearing the Tigers would blow another lead on this road trip (they held a lead in all three road losses), Fister took matters into his own hands. He tossed an easy 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, needing only 11 pitches. Fister's pitch count stood at a reasonable 91, meaning a complete game was still a possibility. Fister could Potato-proof the game by himself.
It wasn't going to happen.
Fister retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth with ease. But he couldn't get Dozier, who reached for the second straight at-bat, lacing a two-out double down the left-field line. Fister went to a full count on the number-nine hitter, Pedro Florimon, before walking him.
The tying run at the plate in Thomas, Jim Leyland made the call for Benoit. Thomas greeted Benoit with a line-drive RBI single to left, Dozier crossing the plate to make it a 4-2 game. The go-ahead run now at the plate, Mauer lifted a soft fly to short center. Jackson raced in to make the catch off his shoe tops, both saving a run and ending the inning.
Top of nine, the Tigers were looking for insurance runs against lefty Brian Duensing. With one down, Infante singled to center. Duensing then had a fastball take off on him, painfully drilling Avila on the inside of his left wrist. Both Duensing and Avila left the game, replaced by right-hander Josh Roenicke and backup catcher Brayan Pena, respectively.
Roenicke retired Jackson on a fly ball to right, then dug the Twins grave in a 12-pitch battle with Hunter.
He wild-pitched Infante to third (Pena held at first; why was he pinch running again?), then served up a belt-high breaking ball which Hunter smoked into the gap in left center. A bad bounce sent the ball over the fence on one hop for ground rule double, taking a second RBI away from Hunter. But Infante did score, pushing the Tigers' lead to 5-2.
It would not be Valverde closing out the Twins with a three-run ninth-inning lead. Benoit remained in the game, with no one up in the bullpen.
Infante and Martinez combined for a marvelous play to help out Benoit. Leading off, Doumit hit a ground ball up the middle. Infante ranged far to his right, making an off-balance throw which Martinez snagged off the short hop for the out.
That was it for any drama.
Benoit quickly put the game under wraps. Morneau sent a can of corn to center for the second out. Arcia couldn't hold up on Benoit's 2-2 pitch, striking out to end the game.
A Valverde-free (and for the most part, drama-free) GAME OVER.
Your final score is Tigers 5, Twins 2. Fister gets a long-overdue win, Benoit earns a four-out save.
Post game, Leyland gave the reason why he went with Benoit over Valverde:
I thought Benoit's repertoire matched up a little bit better with the Twins coming up than Papa's did."
Makes sense to me.
The Tigers wrap up their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record. Considering how well the Tigers play at home, I'll take a .500 road trip every time. As Leyland told the media:
"We're doing OK!"
"We're good, but so are these other teams."
When no one else is the division is over .500, I have to agree. The Tigers are doing OK!
In taking two of three from the Twins, the first-place Tigers move to 38-29 on the season. They hold serve on the Cleveland Indians, who also won this afternoon, their lead in the Central hovering at 4 1/2 games.
The Tigers start a ten-game home stand on Monday with three against the Baltimore Orioles. Right-hander Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.24 ERA) toes the rubber for the Orioles. The Tigers clubbed Hammel for five runs in three innings in a 10-3 victory on June 1. Max Scherzer (9-0, 3.19 ERA) shoots for his tenth win of the season for the Tigers. Despite retiring the last 16 batters he faced, Scherzer was denied a win over the Orioles on May 31 when Jose Valverde blew a two-run lead, giving up a pair of ninth-inning home runs in a 7-5 walk-off loss.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
What the? The regulars were all playing today, no infamous Sunday lineup from Jim Leyland to the relief of everyone.
The circle of baseball life: Torii Hunter hit his first career home run on the road in Detroit. On April 15, 1999 Hunter went yard off Brian Moehler in an 8-6 Twins victory over the Tigers in the final season of Tiger Stadium. On June 16, 2013, Hunter hits home run number 300 as a Tiger, on the road against the Twins.
With 300 big flies, Hunter tied the Pirates Chuck Klein at 135 on MLB's career home run list.
Alex Avila entered today's game hitting .163/.261/.275, in midst of an 0-for-19 slump before his second-inning double snapped the streak. It was just his fourth double of the season and only his third extra base hit since May 10. He would end up reaching base three times, adding a fourth-inning single and hit by a pitch in the ninth.
Meanwhile, in the press box at Target Field:
Press box employee: "Do you need a Minnesota Twins spatula?" Me: "Absolutely." pic.twitter.com/m33sIMqS4T— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) June 16, 2013
Meanwhile, in the Twins' broadcast booth, Bert Blyleven has never stopped talking:
Bert Blyleven reminding us that it’s only 295 days until his birthday— Bryan Craves (@DisplacedTgrFan) June 16, 2013
Clete Thomas made his bid to become a Tiger Killer by committing highway robbery in the fifth, making an Austin Jackson-like play by running down Prince Fielder's long drive to deep right center. The ball had RBI double written all over it before it hung up just long enough for Thomas to make a fine running catch.
The alerts of a possible no-no started in earnest after five innings.
I just got the text message. Fister looks good thru 5— Detroit4lyfe (@Detroit4lyfe) June 16, 2013
Though the Tigers' official Twitter was only implying something special could be going down.
Fister is putting on a show through five innings in MIN. #Tigers lead 4-0 heading to the top of the sixth.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) June 16, 2013
Unfortunately, Brian Dozier broke up the no-hit bid with a lead off home run in the sixth, just the second Twin to even reach base.
Remember the rumors of a deal with the Cubs, the Tigers trading Rick Porcello for closer Carlos Marmol? Sometimes the best deal is one you don't make.
Cubs fans are in complete meltdown mode over their closer.
I know a perfect place for Carlos Marmol: Detroit.— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) June 16, 2013
So glad I wasn't in front of my TV for yet another Carlos Marmol meltdown. No clue why Theo and Sveum keep trotting him out there. #NoCloser— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyanTV) June 16, 2013
Sounds familiar, huh? Marmol makes the Big Potato look like ... Hell, they're pretty damn similar. Both have three blown saves.
Ex-Tiger Clete Thomas hit .364 (4-for11) in the three-game series, chipping in an RBI for the Twins in the eighth.
Tigers need to stop making mortal enemies with fringe players.— Matt Sussman (@suss2hyphens) June 16, 2013
Avila was forced to leave the game after being drilled in the wrist by a Brian Duensing pitch. Jim Leyland inserted Brayan Pena as a pinch runner. Huh? Why not pinch run Don Kelly, then have Pena catch in the bottom of ninth? I like the odds of Donnie Baseball taking the extra base on a hit (or even scoring) than the extremely slow Pena. It bit the Tigers when Pena didn't advance on the same wild pitch Omar Infante used to take third, which meant he was held at third on Hunter's ground rule double, costing the Tigers a run.
Avila had a scan of his wrist, which came up negative. He will have X-rays tomorrow. Avila put his status simply:
"It hurts like Hell!"
The Rod Allen quote of the game was quite telling:
Mario: "Interesting that Jim has Benoit out for the 9th." Rod: "Well, he wants to win this game."— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) June 16, 2013
And he did win the game.
Doug Fister: No-hit the Twins through five innings, pitched into the eighth, another quality start for the Tall Man.
Torii Hunter: Hitting 300 home runs in the bigs deserves a ROAR.
Austin Jackson: Two run home run, single, two runs scored, two RBI, run saving catch in the eighth. Jackson has been sorely missed.
Joaquin Benoit: Old-school four out save for the setup man.
Alex Avila: Two hits, reached base three times. But he may be forced to miss time due to being hit by a pitch in the ninth.
Andy Dirks: Struck out twice while going 0-for-4. But to give credit where credit is due, Dirks did make an excellent running catch in the third.
FOX: I'm still peeved over that God awful broadcast on Saturday night.
The Minnesota Twins: I really hate that team.
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TOP TEN COMMMENTERS:
A meh game had a meh PotG result. Jhonny Peralta's two RBI single was enough to push him past Don Kelly's two hits in the balloting, 48% to 44%
•Tigers 4, Twins 0: Porcello still Rick-rolling
•GIF: Prince slides, hilarity ensues
•Leyland sticks with Valverde as closer
•World Series winners and their closers
•Kurt: I (bleep)ing want Smyly to close!