The Detroit Tigers played the role of spoilers on Wednesday. Tyler Collins, Jefry Marte, and J.D. Martinez each drove in a pair of runs, giving the Tigers a 7-4 victory over the Twins in 12 innings. The Tigers' bullpen blew two leads late in the game but Ian Krol came on to record the last nine outs in extra innings to seal the victory for Detroit.
The Tigers got on the board in the first inning with a walk to Anthony Gose, a single by J.D. Martinez, and a two run double by Tyler Collins. Tigers' starter Daniel Norris retired the first six Minnesota hitters before giving up a solo home run to Eddie Rosario to lead off the third inning, cutting the lead to 2-1. Norris retired the first two Twins in the fourth and was removed from the game after 47 pitches. Al Alburquerque promptly served up a double high off the wall in right center field to Miguel Sano, but stranded him by getting Trevor Plouffe to fly out to Collins in left field. Alburquerque then retired the Twins on three grounders in the fifth.
Drew VerHagen came on in the sixth inning, retiring the Twins on a groundout, a two-base throwing error by Romine, and a line drive to Collins, resulting in a rare 7-4 double play. VerHagen walked Joe Mauer to lead off the seventh inning, then Sano doubled down the third base line to put runners on second and third with no outs. VerHagen struck out Plouffe, then gave up a liner to Torii Hunter that glanced off the glove of Marte to tie the game, ending VerHagen's night.
Blaine Hardy came on with runners on first and third and gave up a base hit through the right side to Rosario to put the Twins ahead. Following the hit, Hardy was removed after one hitter for the second game in a row. Alex Wilson entered the game and got a pair of fly balls to end the inning, but the damage was done, with the Twins leading 3-2.
After Romine led off the eighth inning with a base hit, Miguel Cabrera, who was given the day off, pinch hit for Gose and struck out on three pitches. Former Tiger Casey Fien finished off the inning, and closer Kevin Jepsen was brought in for what looked like a big win for the Twins.
Victor Martinez led off the ninth with an infield single. Steven Moya pinch ran for Martinez, and Collins followed with a base hit, taking second on the throw to third. With runners on second and third with no outs, Marte singled to right, scoring two runs to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. After Alex Avila singled, Romine hit into the team's fourth double play of the game to end the threat.
Bruce Rondon was called in to close, but failed when he allowed a run for the third time in his last four outings. After walking Sano to lead off the inning, the runner advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a line drive double down the third base line by Plouffe to tie the game. A sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third with one out. Rondon intentionally walked Rosario, then mentally checked out while he stole second. Suzuki hit a grounder to short and Romine saved the day with a sharp throw home. Rondon retired Escobar to send the game into extra innings.
Jose Valdez walked the lead off man in the 10th inning and gave up a single to Brian Dozier to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ausmus summoned Ian Krol, who struck out Joe Mauer and got Nunez to ground out to second base. Robinson flied out to Rajai Davis in deep center field to end the inning. Krol then retired the Twins in order in the 11th inning.
With one in the 12th, Romine singled and stole second. After Davis popped out, Kinsler singled into right center field to put the Tigers on top, 5-4. J.D. Martinez sealed the deal with a two run homer to put the Tigers up 7-4. Krol was brought out for a third inning of work and retired the leadoff man before issuing a walk, but induced a game-ending double play for the win.
A Twins win would have pulled them within one half game of the Houston Astros for the final playoff spot, but the Tigers ruined the party. The win gave the Tigers a series win as well as clinched the season series. The Tigers have a 10-6 season series lead with three games remaining in Detroit.
Daniel Norris was sharp in his first game back off the disabled list, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced. He struck out four batters without a walk and registered 95 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball.
Tyler Collins smashed a two-run double, driving in a pair of runs, and added a key hit in the ninth inning, scoring the go-ahead run (at the time). He is now hitting .351/.415/.541 in September.
Jefry Marte had a pair of hits and a walk, including the ninth inning hit that drove in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Ian Krol came in with two on and no outs in the 10th, with the winning run in scoring position. He retired six straight batters in the 10th and 11th innings, then finished off the Twins in the 12th inning to record the win.
Ian Kinsler had his league-leading 56th multi-hit game of the season and drove in the winning run in the 12th inning.
Double plays continue to stymie the Tigers offense. Four more twin killings give the Tigers a league-high 138 for the season, one more than they hit into for the 2014 season. Three leadoff walks were erased on double plays, while the Twins scored in three different innings when they drew a leadoff walk.
The Tigers' bullpen blew two late inning leads for their 19th blown save opportunity of the season. Bruce Rondon proved again that he is not ready to be a closer. He has allowed 29 hits and 19 walks in 19 innings of work as the team's closer.
Brad Ausmus used Blaine Hardy for just one batter for the second game in a row, using up one of his two best relievers for the remainder of the game. Ausmus turned Hardy into a LOOGY in September 2014, once he got more minor league caliber righthanders and it failed. He's doing the same again in 2015.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Miguel Cabrera is now 0-for-20 at the plate after striking out in his only plate appearance. He hasn't hit a home run since August 26. The Tigers slugger, who once had a 41-point lead in his quest for his fourth batting title in five seasons, now leads Boston's Xander Bogaerts by just 15 points. Despite the recent slump, Cabrera still leads the league in batting average, on base percentage, and OPS.
Eddie Rosario is quietly having a fine rookie season, posting double digit home runs (10), doubles (17), triples (10), steals (10) to go with 15 outfield assists and 50 runs scored.
Joe Nathan missed his 144th consecutive game this season since he struck out fellow former Twin,Torii Hunter in the season opener to record his first and last save of the year.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: