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Twins 15, Tigers 6: Nelson Cruz Strikes Again

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The veteran Tiger-killer was in fine form as the Twins easily took the first game of a 3-game set.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The opener of a three-game series with the Twins was delayed by an hour due to rain but, rather poetically, as the first pitch was being thrown, the sun poked through the clouds. A rainout wouldn’t have been so bad today, as Nelson Cruz and the Twins trounced the Tigers, 15-6. Of note: Akil Baddoo’s second game produced his second home run. More on that later.

José Ureña’s Tiger debut began inauspiciously, with a flurry of walks and an occasional hit making it 2-0 Twins in the second. The aforementioned Mr. Cruz then smashed a line-drive grand slam to left to make it 6-0, and the rout was on. Ureña’s final line included 81 pitches, six runs, five earned runs and strikeouts, four walks and hits, three innings, and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the other hand, native Michigander Matt Shoemaker was having a pretty easy time handling the Tigers. The first baserunner was Baddoo, who reached first base on the ol’ strikeout/wild pitch combination in the third. Shoemaker’s splitter was working well all throughout the game, inducing several of the strikeouts.

Buck Farmer took over in the fourth, and Cruz struck again in the fifth with another rocket into the left-field seats, measured at 116.1 mph (186.8 km/h). Direct your complaints about the Tigers’ payroll to their true owner, Mr. Cruz.

Farmer continued the Walk Parade, and Derek Holland saw no reason to break it up. A couple of sharp base hits made it 11-0 as the Twins batted around in the fifth.

But hey, at least Robbie Grossman made a nice play.

Wilson Ramos finally broke the spell in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run.

As the runs kept piling up for the Twins, I had to figure out ways to stay interested in the game. Did you know the Twins have a player whose last name is Garlick? That’s fun. JaCoby Jones and Victor Reyes came into the game in the seventh. Whoops, now it’s 14-1. Willians Astudillo is from a city in Venezuela called Barcelona, which I assume is named after the city in Spain. I think it’s 15-1 now. It’s a good thing that runs for and against don’t count in the standings like goals for and against do sometimes in soccer. That’s a thing, right? I should probably pick a soccer team to follow. Casey Mize is pitching tomorrow. I hope that goes better than today did.

Gregory Soto’s first pitch in the 8th sailed all the way to the screen, several feet over Ramos’ head.

Not Mr. Soto, but close.

But hey, whadda ya know, Soto got through the eighth and didn’t allow a run. That’s progress.

Harold Castro took over on the mound for the ninth, adding a bit of levity to the proceedings, and the first batter he faced was none other than Nelson Cruz. Magically, Castro kept Cruz in the yard — the warning track’s still in play, remember? — and after a walk, he set down Brent Rooker and Jake Cave with nasty 70 mph sinkers to finish the scoreless inning. Naturally, some here at BYB had their sizzling-hot takes at the ready:

Castro’s prowess was left entirely on the mound, though, as he struck out in the ninth. Victor Reyes then hit a solo home run, and the bases loaded up for Baddoo... who hit a grand slam. Two games, two home runs. You really can’t make this up.

Notes, Trivia, and So Forth

  • Coming into today’s game, Matt Shoemaker had faced the Tigers six times previously, all of them starts: he had a 4-1 record, with a 0.68 ERA.
  • Nelson Cruz’s stats in Comerica Park before his multi-homer game today: 56 games and a slash line of .326/.379/.597, for a tidy OPS of .976.
  • Randy Dobnak, rather improbably, picked up a save in this game. You pitch the last three innings in a game, no matter the score, you get a save. That’ll never not be weird.
  • Today is Easter Monday in Canada; some people had the day off work. Today is also celebrated as Dyngus Day in several countries in central Europe; I’m told this involves boys and girls throwing water on each other.