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Twins 8, Tigers 4: Pineda exits early, Minnesota beats up bullpen

Tyler Alexander gave the Tigers a shot, but things imploded after that

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Things went from bad to worse in a hurry for the Detroit Tigers Saturday night in an 8-4 loss against the Minnesota Twins. Michael Pineda left the game early due to injury, and bad defense ruined any chances of a comeback.

The opening frame went poorly for Detroit and perhaps served as an omen for what was to come. Pineda needed 29 pitches to get through the first and gave up an early 1-0 lead. To his credit, Pineda won a 10-pitch at-bat against Jose Miranda to end the inning which stopped things from getting out of hand, but starting things off with three-straight singles isn’t the way to bounce back from the worst outing of his career.

Pineda did bounce back in the second, needing just 12 pitches to dispatch the bottom third of the Minnesota lineup. Gary Sanchez disagreed with the strike three call that ended the half inning but Baseball Savant had it catching the bottom of the zone, justifying home plate umpire Ryan Blakney’s call.

The Tigers got their first base runner on the evening in the second thanks to a dropped line drive by center fielder Nick Gordon. Byron Buxton is out with a knee injury and was left to stew over the play he likely would have made. Gordon redeemed himself with an inning-ending diving catch, but something tells me Buxton was still side-eyeing him as he jogged back to the dugout.

Carlos Correa — also known as the guy the Tigers didn’t sign at shortstop this past offseason — doubled the Twins' lead in the third with a his 12th home run of the year, a solo shot. Javier Báez kept the inning going with a nine-pitch walk that featured five-straight sliders low and away with two strikes from Joe Ryan. Baez whiffed on the slider in the first but he seemed to have a pretty good grasp of the 26-year-old starter’s approach the second time through.

A.J. Hinch turned to the bullpen after just 55 pitches from Pineda. The team revealed that Pineda was dealing with tightness in his right tricep, so he’ll need to be evaluated and could be in danger of missing a start. Tyler Alexander, and his glorious mustache, took over in the fourth and cruised through the inning. Unfortunately, Detroit’s offense can’t be relied on for even a pair of runs. Miguel Cabrera fanned at the slider to start the inning, and Jeimer Candelario rendered Harold Castro’s line drive single ineffective with an easy double-play ball to Correa.

A pair of defensive highlights came in the fifth inning. Riley Greene laid out to rob Gio Urshela of a line-drive base hit to center field, and Tucker Barnhart caught Arraez attempting to steal second. Arraez was initially called safe, but it didn’t take long for things to get overturned once Detroit issued the challenge.

Alexander put the Twins down in order once again to cap off his third and final inning of work, but the Tigers desperately needed to take advantage of the strong performance and get some runs on the board. Ask and you shall receive. Greene delivered a leadoff triple that required a review after Minnesota challenged that he touched second base. It was very close, but the review team in New York deemed that a spike got the bag and Detroit finally had something brewing.

Baez fouled off a few sliders, forcing Ryan to the fastball, and wound up driving a four-seamer between Arraez and the first-base foul line for an RBI single into right field. Grossman flew out to center and Miggy was fooled by the slider once again. That ended Ryan’s night and brought out Emilio Pagán to get Castro.

Andrew Chafin, who also has a pretty glorious mustache, took the mound for Detroit in the seventh. Alex Kirilloff beat the shift for a leadoff single, and Candelario booted a ball he laid out for that Baez could have played much easier. Candy made another mistake on the very next play coming up on a double-play ball early and allowing it to go under his glove to load the bases. Oy vey.

Urshela made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly to Baddoo in left and Joe Jiménez came in for Chafin. Candelario finally found his glove for out No. 2 of the inning, but Baddoo missed a fly ball in foul territory that he slid for and should have had. Even he’d agree with that judging by his body language during the walk back to left.

Arraez punished the mistakes with a soft line drive to right field and Grossman’s throw to the plate came in behind the second runner to cross. 5-1, Twins. Correa almost hit longball No. 13 on the year, but Baddoo went up at the wall to rob him of his second home run of the night. At least Tigers fans can hold on to that small, small victory...

Tyler Duffey set the Tigers down in order in the bottom of the seventh, and Will Vest loaded up the bases before striking out Miranda for the first out of the eighth. Jonathan Schoop made the right play by going home with the ball but Barnhart couldn’t squeeze it with his catcher’s mitt and let the ball drop in front of the plate as a run scored. Urshela singled home another run with a soft line drive over a leaping Baez (Correa has four inches on Baez for those who are wondering), and Sanchez drove in run No. 8 on a double-play ball that got into first a hair late. Arraez grounded into a rare out to end the inning.

Detroit chipped away at the lead again in the eight but it only cut the lead to four runs. Cabrera singled in a run with two outs, and that forced Minnesota to bring in Trevor Megill for Jovani Morán. Castro singled in another run, and then Megill spiked a ball that ricocheted toward the first-base dugout. Zack Short, who was pinch running for Miggy, scored, and Schoop ended the inning with a grounder to short that he almost beat out.

Jason Foley pitched a clean ninth for Detroit and kept the score in place, but all of the comeback magic was used up for the night and the Tigers went down 1-2-3 to close out another loss on the 2022 season. Jhoan Duran got Victor Reyes swinging, Baddoo to fly out to right and Greene to line out to left.

Game one of this two-game series against Minnesota wasn’t a ton of fun to watch, but Detroit can turn things around quickly and split the series tomorrow in a day game that starts at 1:40 p.m. ET.