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Twins 12, Tigers 3: Bullpen implosion, missing offense hands Detroit mirror-like losses

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A combination of poor pitching, offense, and defense allowed a critical must-win game to slip through the Tigers' fingers to the last-place Twins.

Duane Burleson

DETROIT — Hoping the clinch the American League Central Division with Kyle Lobstein on the mound, the Tigers betrayed their own hopes. A combination of poor pitching, missing offense, and an imploding bullpen handed the Tigers a 12–3 win, leaving Detroit with a one-game lead and one game left to play.

Lobstein was solid for the first four innings, but he came undone in the fifth on hits that found the right holes at the worst time for the Tigers. What was looking like another solid outing for the lefty quickly turned into a bleeding loss that the bullpen could not stem.

If anything the bullpen opened a clinic for the Twins on how to win by way of papercuts. The Twins were textbook Piranhas; with the exception of the two home runs, all remaining Twins hits were singles, no extra-base hits.

"It's frustrating, for sure," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Today was almost a carbon copy of yesterday. A couple defensive mistakes, we didn't pitch well, and you're in such a deep hole that it's tough to climb out of."

The Tigers' offense was nowhere to be found, save for Nick Castellanos and Andrew Romine. Castellanos accounted for all of the runs scored, hitting a home run, a groundout and a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers their three runs. Romine was the only Tiger to finish with multiple hits, and Miguel Cabrera struck out twice in the game against Twins starter Ricky Nolasco.

The defense was left wanting, despite the fact that no errors were charged to either team. Cabrera's brain freeze in the fifth, Castellanos' slow play on a grounder, and Ezequiel Carrera's lack of play on a blooper to center field allowed for the fifth inning to take off for the Twins, never to return.

"The one on Carrera I'm not really sure that that ball would've been caught either way, no," Ausmus said. "I think the other plays, I think there was some confusion at first, on Miggy's (Cabrera) play as to whether there was coverage or not so he tried to get the out at second. I think Nick (Castellanos) could've been on the ball a little bit quicker on that one slow roller. Those didn't help but it certainly wasn't the only problem tonight."

With just one game left to play, the Tigers can take the division of they win on Sunday or if the Royals lose to the White Sox. However, if the Tigers lose and the Royals win, the two teams will play the dreaded and forbidden game 163 on Monday to break a tie. With David Price on the mound for the Tigers, it's a game they must win. There is no room for error, sloppy plays, or an imploding bullpen.

"We got a game tomorrow that we gotta win, I mean, we gotta win," Ausmus said.

ROARS:

Nick Castellanos: In the second inning Castellanos hit a no-doubter of a home run on the first pitch, giving the Tigers an early 1-0 lead over the Twins. (MLB.com video) He also hit a groundout RBI in the sixth and had a sacrifice fly in the eighth. He was responsible for all of the runs scored by the Tigers Saturday night.

Andrew Romine: At some point you'd expect Romine to stop hitting and return to his formerly quiet ways, but it hasn't for over a month now. He was the only Tiger with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3. In the second inning Romine singled to put Alex Avila in scoring position, threatening to score again after Castellanos' home run. He also started the seventh inning with the second single, but the Tigers' meek offense was unable to rally behind either hit. Romine was left standing on first base on both occasions.

HISSES:

Tigers defense: In the fifth inning, the Tigers defense made mental blunders that cost the Tigers all six of the runs they gave up in the inning. Ezequiel Carrera failed to judge a blooper that fell in for a single to put two on. Miguel Cabrera double-checked second base before throwing to first base, costing the Tigers an out and loading the bases. The result that followed was five hits, six runs, and an intentional walk.

Kyle Lobstein: Lobstein's final line was not completely reflective of how he pitched, but he still gave up several hits to the Twins, most of them in the fifth. He started strong but it didn't last. He finished with six runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four.

Tigers offense: Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez started the bottom of the sixth with three straight singles to load the bases. The Tigers obliged by handing the threat right back. J.D. Martinez popped out on the first pitch, Nick Castellanos grounded out to give the Tigers one run, and Alex Avila grounded out to end it all. In fairness to Avila, it was a smoked ground ball that Brian Dozier barely made, nearly pulling Joe Mauer off the bag.

Bullpen: The combined bullpen reverted to its dumpster fire ways, giving up six runs on nine hits, walking five batters and striking out just three batters. Robbie Ray put the bomb on top of it all, giving up two home runs, a three run blast and a solo shot in just one inning of work.

NOTES::

A scoring change was issued on Saturday for the September 20 game against the Royals in Kansas City. Ian Kinsler was given an error for allowing a run to score on a single in the fifth inning by Alcides Escobar.

Rajai Davis was taken out of the game in the second inning due to a strain to his frontal pelvic cartilage. Almost immediately after leaving the batter's box on a ground ball he hit, Davis pulled up from running to first base. He left the field under his own power, but slowly.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • Nick Castellanos hit a home run in the second inning on the first pitch of the at-bat, giving him 11 for the season. Eight of his 11 home runs have come on the first pitch and it is his fifth game of the season with three-or-more RBI.
  • Kyle Lobstein allowed six runs on seven hits, striking out four in 4 2/3 innings of work, taking his second loss. The six runs he gave up are a career high.
  • Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to 13 games with the single in the sixth inning. He is batting .357 during that stretch.
  • The Twins have scored 119 runs on the season against the Tigers. It is the second-highest single-season run total Detroit has given up since they allowed 121 runs to the Twins in 2001. The Tigers are 8–10 against the Twins this season, giving them the lowest record against the Twins since 2009 when they finished with an 8–12 record that season.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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