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Twins 3, Tigers 2: Late rally comes up short again

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Tyler Alexander pitched his third consecutive quality start but the offense couldn’t take advantage.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Tyler Alexander, displaying the power of the stach, on his way to yet another quality start.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Alexander pitched yet another strong six inning start, despite some early struggles, but his efforts were wasted as the Tigers offense couldn’t get their big hits at the right time early on. As a result, despite a late rally they suffered their third straight loss, falling to the Twins 3-2. Tyler did pick up his third straight quality start, and his fifth overall in 2021, all since August 7th.

Things started a bit rough to Alexander in the first inning. Byron Buxton lead off with a single but was quickly erased on what initially called a fielder’s choice but replay showed it was a double play. But the Twins came right back, and the next two batters singled to produce a threat with two outs. Alexander eventually got a strikeout of Miguel Sano to end the inning, but he threw 30 pitches in the first frame. He worked a cleaner second inning, allowing just a single to Brent Rooker and a souvenir to a fan behind home plate. On his 1-2 pitch to Willians Astudillo, home plate umpire Todd Tichenor called time out as Alexander was in mid delivery and rather than holding onto the ball, he launched a 106ft “changeup” over the netting.

The Twins would scratch out their only run against him in the third inning in a classic display of small ball that surely made Ron Gardenhire smile. Buxton walked to lead off, stole second, and then came around and scored on two flyball outs. He retired the next batter for the third out, and then worked back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth on an economy of pitches, twenty-three of them to be exact. It looked like that might be his final inning but A.J. Hinch sent him back out for the sixth and he kept rolling, firing another 1-2-3 inning, retiring the last twelve batters he faced. Despite his long first inning, he finished with an impressive six innings of work on 99 pitches, allowing one run on four hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

Meanwhile the Tigers’ offense, despite racking up several extra base hits and walks, sputtered against Charlie Barnes, who was pitching on three days rest. They went quietly in the first inning with only a two out walk from Robbie Grossman. In the second, Eric Haase doubled with two outs, and Dustin Garneau reached right after on a hit by pitch, but Zack Short popped out to end the threat. In the third, Baddoo leadoff with a walk but was erased on a double play. That proved especially disappointing as Grossman followed this with a double, but he was left stranded at second. The Tigers had yet another scoring opportunity in the fourth when Isaac Paredes doubled with one out, but he was also stranded at second. Barnes ended up going four innings on 62 pitches, giving up no runs, three hits (all doubles), three walks, and two strikeouts.

Jorge Alcala replaced Barnes and retired the Tigers in order in the fifth. Tyler Duffey then came on in the sixth and the Tigers looked to have something going against him. Cabrera singled to lead off and Paredes followed with a one out single, but Haase and Garneau made weak contact outs to end the threat. Caleb Thielbar come on in the seventh and struck out two in a clean 1-2-3 inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hinch turned to Jose Ureña and Miguel Sano promptly greeted the new Tigers pitcher with a solo home run to left. A walk, single, sac fly produced another run and it looked like things might be spiraling out of control. To his credit Ureña fought to get the next two batters and end the threat.

The Tigers could only manage a walk of Ralph Garza in the top of the eighth. Ureña worked around a leadoff single from Jorge Polanco in the bottom of the eighth to give the Tigers a chance in the top of the ninth. The Twins sent out Alex Colome for the save and Eric Haase greeted him with a lead-off single. Garneau grounded out but advanced Haase to second, and Hinch then sent up Hittin Harold Castro™ to pinch hit for Short. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield, grounding out over the mound while putting Haase at third with two outs. That brought up Akil Baddoo with two outs and he took a 91-mph cutter away and lined it into left to score Haase. Baddoo then took second on defensive indifference and he then scored as Schoop hit a sharp line drive single to center.

Suddenly, it was 3-2 with the Tigers again rallying in the late innings. Robbie Grossman strode to the plate with a chance to tie the game but he struck out on a cutter below the zone and the game was over.

For the third straight game, the Tigers rallied late but came up one run short. The loss also gave the Tigers their 82nd loss of the year, officially ending their chances for a .500 season. Though, really considering most had them pegged to have close to 102 losses by now, and considering they continue to show that late inning fire, AND considering the continued emergence of Tyler Alexander, this wasn’t all that bad of a loss. Just another rough step on the way to a hopefully bright 2022 and beyond.

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Meanwhile Jake Rogers is still following along and calling a good game.