clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tigers 7, Twins 1: Báez, Vierling and the bullpen tame Twins

Javy Báez and Matt Vierling provided the power, and the bullpen mastered the Twins lineup without much issue.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A bullpen day vs. the Minnesota Twins with Joe Ryan on the mound is generally a recipe for disaster. Instead, the Tigers made it two in a row with power provided by Javier Báez and Matt Vierling, while Tyler Holton and the Tigers bullpen dominated the Twins’ lineup in surprising fashion. Chris Fetter? Still possibly a genius.

The Tigers had a really tough task in this one. Joe Ryan is one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Will Vest...was going to throw one inning to get through the top of the Twins order, and then turn it over to the long relievers.

Things started as planned for the Twins, as Ryan and his diabolical, sneaky fastball carved through the Tigers order the first two innings. A.J. Hinch’s plan started off well too, as Vest got the right-handers, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, he was supposed to get before turning it over to Mason Englert in the second inning.

Englert surrendered a solo shot to Alex Kirilloff to open his outing in the bottom of the second, and Donavan Solano followed with a single. Englert got Royce Lewis to fly out, but Joey Gallo ripped a double into the right field corner. However, a nice relay from Zach McKinstry to Javier Báez caught Solano making the turn around third base. Báez fired to Jonathan Schoop who tagged Solano out, and that mistake popped the balloon on what could’ve turned into a big inning for Minnesota. Christian Vazquez flew out, and we were on to the third.

Matt Vierling led off the third with a soft tapper that second baseman Edouard Julien misplayed. The Twins mistakes were costing them, and the Tigers made sure they felt the pain. Eric Haase squared up a Ryan fastball for a solid single and Schoop pulled a hard ground ball past Correa for an RBI single. Zach McKinstry got overpowered, but managed to dump a pop-up into shallow left-center for a single, and the bases were juiced.

Ryan bounced back, jamming Spencer Torkelson with fastballs and getting him to pop up on the infield. However, Kerry Carpenter went down to get a splitter at the bottom of the zone and ripped a laser out to Michael A. Taylor for a sac fly that scored Haase. Javier Báez finished the job by pulling a 1-2 splitter for a three-run shot just fair down the left field line. It was 5-1 Tigers and Joe Ryan was presumably rather stunned by the turn of events.

Englert allowed a single in the third, but struck out Correa and Buxton on sliders to end the inning. However, his fastball velocity dipped noticeably as his outing progressed. Seeing a few 90 mph fastballs, Hinch, Fetter, and head trainer Ryne Eubanks came out for a chat. Englert assured them he was fine and wrapped his outing in style, so we’ll see if there’s anything there. The rookie Rule 5 right-hander has been ridden fairly hard so far.

The Tigers got right back to work in the top of the fourth. Andy Ibáñez grounded out to start the frame, but Matt Vierling pulled a breaking ball at the bottom of the zone for a solo shot into the second deck, 428 feet from home plate, his sixth on the year. They went quietly the rest of the inning but it was 6-1 Tigers.

Lefty Tyler Holton took over the bottom of the fourth. He got Kirilloff to ground out to start the frame, but Solano came through with another single and Royce Lewis drew a walk. Not ideal with Joey Gallo up, though Hinch had the southpaw on the mound mainly for Kirilloff and Gallo in the first place. The plan came together (cue Hannibal from the A-team lighting up a cigar) as Gallo grounded into a 3-6-1 double play, with a nice job from all three parties involved.

The Tigers got a one out double from a suddenly hot Torkelson in the fifth, but Carpenter popped out and Báez struck out as Ryan realized that perhaps he should try that slider down and away trick everyone uses on the Tigers’ shortstop.

Holton got the first two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but Julien ripped a two-out single to left. That brought Correa to the dish, but Holton jammed him with a 2-1 cutter for a ground ball that ended the inning. The Tigers went in order in the sixth despite some hard contact from Nick Maton and Andy Ibánez.

Holton struck out Buxton and got Kirilloff to ground out in the bottom half of the sixth. At that point, Hinch put in Brendan White for his second major league appearance against the right-handed Solano. He pulled a hard ground ball into the hole but Javier Báez made a spectacular play diving to his backhand to snare it at the edge of the dirt, and then threw from the ground, getting enough on it to nip Solano by an inch at most. The Twins didn’t challenge, and we were on to the seventh. Joe Ryan finished his outing with a quick 1-2-3 top of the seventh, still pitching efficiently despite the damage done.

White struck out Lewis for the first out of the bottom of the seventh. Gallo grounded out, but Vazquez poked a two-out single to right field. White showcased his mid-90’s cutterish fourseamer and nasty set of breaking balls, striking out Taylor on a high heater to send us to the eighth inning.

Josh Winder took over from Ryan and struck out Torkelson to start the inning. Carpenter took another pitch down and ripped it into the right field corner for a stand up double. Báez used Miguel Cabrera’s appeal to first on a checked swing Jedi mind trick, and drew a walk. Unfortunately Nick Maton ripped one right to Solano at first, easily doubling off Báez to send it to the bottom of the eighth.

Jose Cisnero took over and promptly struck out Julien and Correa. Buxton lined out to Vierling in right, and we were quickly on to the ninth.

Matt Vierling turned on another breaking ball with one out, depositing a second such pitch 430 feet to left field. 7-1 Tigers. Eric Haase hit a screamer to Taylor in center and Schoop grounded out to send this to the bottom of the ninth with Chasen Shreve looking to finish this one off.

The lefty had no trouble. He struck out Kirilloff and Solano and Lewis flew out to end it. The Tigers just outplayed the Twins in this one. A few early mistakes from the Twins wasted some chances, while the Tigers played really well in all facets of the game. Nice to see that power with Riley Greene out of the lineup, and Torkelson and Carpenter both had solid games at the plate again too.

The Tigers will look for their first series victory of the month on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET with Joey Wentz on the mound.