Even going into the bottom of the seventh inning today, as the game was tied and the outcome remained uncertain, one thing was abundantly clear: this Tigers team was a heck of a lot more fun to watch than those of previous seasons. Or, as I succinctly texted my best friend “They aren’t wholly unwatchable this year!”
This game, played last year, would have been a runaway victory for the Twins, but this is not the same Tigers team. This is a team with new vigor to it, new excitement, and while they aren’t yet necessarily a championship club (though who the heck knows, they might make it to the expanded postseason somehow, it’s a weird year), there are such flashes of talent that make you believe in winning seasons to come.
Let’s break down how today played out, and the big moments that got us through.
Casey Mize started well, looking better than Rich Hill (who had a wild pitch in his first inning of work) with a 1-2-3 first and second inning. The Tigers drew first blood in the second as Bonifacio got a double, then scored on a Demeritte single. In the top of the third, Hill continued to show signs of weakness and Sergio Alcántara homered in his first major league at bat (the first Tiger to do so since one Daniel Norris five years ago.)
Sergio is the first #Tigers player to homer in his first Major League at-bat since @DanielNorris18 did in 2015. #DetroitRoots https://t.co/ccoaPdherL pic.twitter.com/AnQ8zijwXl— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 6, 2020
The Tigers had a 2-0 lead, but it wouldn’t last long as the Twins finally got to Mize in the bottom of the third. First a walk to Jake Cave (I 100% wrote Nick Cave here first, because I am 37 and that’s the name that sounds right when you used to work in a record store), then an Adrianza double, then and Astudillo single scored both Cave and Adrianza to tie the game.
Hill gave up a double and a hit by pitch in the fourth, but the Tigers were unable to score. Mize gave up a walk and a single in the bottom of the inning, but no further damage. In spite of a pickoff error from Hill in the fifth, the top of the inning remained scoreless for the Tigers. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the bottom of the fifth would be an absolute disaster.
First a Polanco double was the end of the day for Casey Mize, whose final line for the day was 4.0IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 3K. Not bad, per se, but his overall ERA is still 6.75. He’s got plenty of time to find his groove, and certainly not time or reason for immense concern. Mize was replaced by Rony Garcia with one man on and immediately added the third run to Mize’s run total. Arraez doubled to score Polanco, then Sanó walked, then Rosario walked, a Rooker double scored Sanó, but Rosario was thrown out at home. Cave singled to score Rooker, signalling the end of the day for Garcia, but yikes.
Garcia was replaced by Schrieber, who gave up a single but was able to staunch the bleeding and end the inning with the Twins up 6-2.
In the top of the sixth, with May replacing Hill, the Tigers said they would not go gentle into the Minnesota night, and Willi Castro hit a two-run home run to score himself and Miguel Cabrera. May allowed Bonifacio to advance on a wild pitch, and a Greiner single scored Bonifacio, bringing the Tigers within one, to 6-5.
In the bottom of the sixth the Twins got one back as a Rosario single scored Sanó. The top of the seventh, however, showed what the Tigers had left to give. Schoop doubled, then Candelario singled allowing Schoop to score on an error. Castro singled to score Candelario and the Tigers had it tied 7-7.
The Tigers weren’t done yet, in the top of the eighth a Greiner home run gave the team the tie-breaking lead, then things got confusing as a Jonathon Schoop ground rule double somehow became an RBI triple thanks to an odd rule of the in-play areas of the Target Field outfield. Miguel Cabrera then singled to score Schoop giving the Tigers a 10-7 lead.
By the way, for everyone wondering about that play with Rosario: A bouncing ball that hits off the limestone in left field is IN PLAY, not an automatic double.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) September 6, 2020
It's specifically stipulated in the stadium's ground rules. pic.twitter.com/GbSigRfo3Q
The Twins inched back in the bottom of the inning as Eddie Rosario got a solo home run to make up for forgetting how the outfield worked. The Twins only got the one run on the inning, but it sure makes those insurance runs look good.
Anyone hoping for a rematch of Joe Jimenez vs. Miguel Sanó would be disappointed as Bryan Garcia came on for his first career save. In spite of a leadoff single, Garcia was able to keep the Twins scoreless, collected his first save, Kyle Funkhouser got his first career win, and the Tigers got the 10-8 win to stop the run of Twins wins.