The Tigers opened a dreary, gray day in Minnesota with a bang. J.D. Martinez reached first on an infield single, Victor followed with a double and Justin Upton brought them all home with a massive home run. Tyler Duffey's swing-back fastball cut directly over the plate and Upton deposited it into the left field bleachers two seconds later. Joe Mauer was his typical annoying self, but Zimmermann looked strong out of the gate as well. Twins fans wearing ushankas watched on, delighting only in catching the rare foul ball that drifted their way. This was shaping up to be a very good baseball game.
The Twins defense looks quite bad, though this is not an unwelcome sight. An error in the third inning put Ian Kinsler on second base. J.D. lined out to Dozier standing on the bag, doubling off Kinsler. It was a bad bit of luck and there was nothing Kinsler could do. Miguel Cabrera hit a fly ball deep to center field, but not deep enough. Zimmermann was on cruise control in the early innings, until Byung-ho Park hit a solo home run in the fourth, making it 3-1, Tigers.
For the Twins, Duffey settled down and pitched well after the Upton home run. He retired ten straight until Miguel hit a double off of the base of the center field wall. Victor followed with a double of his own (thanks in part to Miguel Sano's poor fielding), making it 4-1, Tigers. Duffey was chased from the game with one out in the seventh inning. Trevor May pitched well in relief for the Twins. Justin Upton hit a deep fly ball, but everything else was quiet and normal.
Zimmermann's day was over after the seventh. He struck out seven and gave up six hits, one walk and one run, all in 103 pitches. He continues to impress in his new Tigers uniform. Mark Lowe came on in relief and promptly walked Danny Santana. This is no mean feat -- Santana has a 3.4% walk rate in his career. Dozier struck out and Saltalamacchia threw out Santana trying to steal, erasing the threat. Joe Mauer grounded out to end the inning. Francisco Rodriguez came in to close it out in the ninth. K-Rod's life flashed before his eyes when Park drilled a line drive right at the veteran closer, but he managed to get some leather on it and throw Park out at first. He closed it out easily, picking up two strikeouts. His stuff looked much better than it did earlier in the season. This scoreless outing continues the new and wonderful trend in which the bullpen is really good. It will be a long time before we get used to a steady bullpen, and for now, each time they throw a scoreless inning it still feels like a true blessing and a gift. The Tigers win.
Justin Upton: Upton was only 1-4, but his massive home run was the difference maker in this game. He is hitting the ball much better and may be turning the corner. If Tigers fans hated his cold spell, they will love the hot streak.
Jordan Zimmermann: Seven strong innings always earn a roar, and the uptick in strikeouts is an encouraging sign.
Victor Martinez: His two doubles atone for the two strikeouts.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: He went 0-4 with three strikeouts.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Upton's first inning home run left his bat at 110 miles per hour.
- Victor Martinez picked up his 14th extra base hit in only 23 games this season.
- Francisco Rodriguez racked up his career save number 392, most among active relievers.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: