After a gut punch loss last night, the Detroit Tigers were looking for a victory to get things back on track. Sadly, they did not find any such success tonight as their bats fell completely silent while the Max Kepler and the Minnesota Twins continued to heat up, handing the Tigers a two-hit shutout loss, their second of the year.
Joe Ryan easily handled the Tigers hitters in his seven innings of work. He struck out 5 Tiger hitters in the first two innings, with only Spencer Torkelson working him for a walk. Robbie Grossman nearly got the Tigers their first hit on a beautiful bunt in the third, but the home plate umpire called Robbie out for interference. In his eyes, Robbie appeared to have stepped outside of the batter’s box when he made the bunt. Unfortunately, the play was not reviewable, and replay showed that his foot was clearly still in the air when the bat made contact and should not have been called out.
Not that it really would have mattered as no hitter in the Tiger’s lineup had an answer for Ryan. Miguel Cabrera collected hit number 3,003 in the fourth inning but otherwise the Tigers batters were dispatched though weak contact and strong defensive plays.
Ryan’s final line will have fantasy managers scrambling to add him to their teams: Seven innings, one hit, one walk, nine strikeouts on 90 pitches.
Meanwhile, Max Kepler picked up where he left off last night, and then some, against Michael Piñeda. In the second inning, on the second pitch, Kepler blasted a solo home run to left center to put the Twins on the board. He then did it again in the fourth inning, on the second pitch of his second at bat, this time a home run to straight away center. Things really got away in the fifth when Piñeda served up a 1-2 center cut fastball to Ryan Jeffers with a runner on, which he deposited over the left field wall to push the Twins lead to 4-0. The former Twins starter finished with a final line of five innings, seven hits, four runs, all earned, no walks and two strikeouts on just 65 pitches.
Despite the low pitch count, AJ Hinch clearly did not like the hard contact in the last two innings of Piñeda, so he went to Will vest in the sixth inning. Vest pitched a relatively clean inning, walking the leadoff batter but retiring Kepler for the first time tonight and then getting an inning ending double play.
Andrew Chafin finally made his Tigers debut and looked…not quite ready. He gave up hard contact and back-to-back doubles to allow the Twins to score another run and make the game 5-0. The second double was assisted by Akil Baddoo who misread another flyball hit straight over his head. Baddoo again turned the wrong way, and then had no chance to recover and get it.
Veteran side-armer Joe Smith got the call to replace Joe Ryan and there was no discernable difference in results as he set down the Tigers in order with more weak contact. Drew Hutchison came on in the bottom of the eighth and tip toed around Kepler and Urshela, walking both, but otherwise got though the inning cleanly.
Robbie Grossman tried to spark something in the bottom of the ninth with a one out double off Danny Coulombe, but nothing came of it as the Twins finished off the shutout. The Twinkies are on a six game winning streak, while the Tigers have dropped four straight to reach the cellar in a scuffling—other than the Twins—AL Central in the early going.
With the series win in hand, Minnesota will look to bust out the brooms tomorrow and sweep the Tigers off to Los Angeles for a brutal west coast weekend series against the Dodgers. Tarik Skubal stands in their way, but it’s the hitters that need to get it together.
At least things down on the farm are looking up tonight. Alex Faedo made his AAA debut with the Mud Hens and pitched a gem. Its only one start but if he keeps this up, he’ll surely be seen in Detroit at some point this summer.