DETROIT -- After 31 nine-inning games, the Detroit Tigers played back-to-back games into extra innings. But unlike Opening Week when the Minnesota Twins were clobbered, the Tigers couldn't get more than a handful of hits off starter Kyle Gibson. Alfredo Simon's stellar start, combined with a key home run from J.D. Martinez gave the Tigers a close walk-off 2-1 win over the Twins. Ian Kinsler's bloop single into right-center field scored Anthony Gose for the game-winning run in the 10th.
Simon was sharp. The righthander gave up just six hits, two that were doubles, and a walk. The other, a single by Brian Dozier, put the Twins second baseman in scoring position on a stolen base in the sixth, but all three hits were stranded. Simon was particularly effective at working around the baserunners he did allow, and the six strikeouts fell one shy of his season high seven strikeouts in a game. Even the one-out single to left field in the seventh never left first base.
In the eighth, though, a leadoff triple ended Simon's night. After getting the first batter to lineout, former Tiger Torii Hunter tied the game on a sacrifice fly that Gose had a chance to throw out ... but he threw it well off-target and the run scored. Joba Chamberlain replaced Simon after 7 2/3 innings of work after Simon gave up a single following the sac fly. Asked to get the final out, Chamberlain struck out Trevor Plouffe on four pitches on a 94 mph fastball.
Joakim Soria and Angel Nesbitt then gave the Tigers two strong innings, striking out three to keep the Twins from taking the win. Nesbitt pitched a scoreless 10th inning to pick up the first win of his MLB career.
The Tigers were tattooing the ball all over Comerica Park, but they had nothing to show for it until J.D. Martinez's home run in the fourth. They had just five hits, but there were several well-struck pitches that just went to the wrong part of the ballpark, including a deep flyout to right-center field by Miguel Cabrera -- he missed it by mere feet -- and an opposite field flyout by Victor Martinez (batting left-handed).
With the exception of Gose, Detroit's defense was stellar, particularly the outfield corners. Yoenis Cespedes and J.D both made sliding grabs, and J.D. held the Twins at third in the eighth inning on a lineout after Danny Santana's leadoff triple. Jose Iglesias returned to the lineup after being out of the lineup since May 7 for left groin tightness and delivered his usual stellar defense.
Alfredo Simon: Went 7 2/3 strong innings of one-run ball, striking out six and allowing just six hits and a walk.
J.D Martinez: After hitting a ball to the warning track in right field in the second inning, Martinez smoked a 93 mph fastball deep into the seats for an opposite field home run.
Ian Kinsler: When you walk it off, you get a roar. Kinsler collected his 15th multi-hit game of the year, tying him for the American League lead with none other than Prince Fielder.
Miguel Cabrera: As good as he is, Cabrera's in a funk right now and he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and an intentional walk.
The offense ... again: It's getting old, but right now the Tigers offense is cold. Might as well be in a deep freeze. They had six hits, but they were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- J.D. Martinez's solo home run in the fourth inning was his seventh of the season, and his first since April 29, also against the Twins. It's also his first extra-base hit since his last home run and his first night game homer -- the other six occurred during day games. Five of Martinez's home runs have also been hit the opposite way this year.
- The home run by Martinez was the first home run since May 6, and the 26th of the season, which is 20th in MLB.
- Nick Castellanos' second-inning double was his sixth of the season, and his first since May 3 at Kansas City against the Royals.
- The double play grounded into in the fifth inning was the 32nd for the Tigers, retaking the MLB lead for most double plays.
- Miguel Cabrera's intentional walk in the eighth inning was his sixth of the season. The walk ties Cabrera for the MLB lead, along with teammate Victor Martinez. Houston Astros' Jose Altuve is second, with five.
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