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Twins 4, Tigers 1: Rough second inning dooms Detroit, Wentz

Fun fact: Minnesota had more ejections than Detroit had runs tonight!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers outhit the Minnesota Twins, 7-6, on Friday night, but it was the AL Central-leading Twinkies that controlled things all night long. A pair of early home runs put the Twins out in front and they never looked back en route to a 4-1 win.

Tigers starter Joey Wentz cruised through the first, needing just nine pitches to sit down Donovan Solano, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, in that order, but things quickly deteriorated in the second. Royce Lewis sent a 93-mph fastball over the left-field wall to put the Twinkies on the board. The blame falls on Wentz there for leaving a fastball high and in the middle of the zone.

It took a while for the left-hander to regain control. Max Kepler hit a two-run shot to the right-center and Christian Velasquez doubled before Twins manager Rocco Baldelli got tossed, providing a second break in the inning for Wentz.

Baldelli was chirping home plate umpire Lance Barrett over what he believed was a balk from Wentz. Barrett loudly yelled over to the dugout, somewhat inciting Baldelli, and then tossed him after a brief back and forth. It’s hard to tell exactly what Baldelli’s issue was with Wentz’s delivery, but it seemed to be about his hands when coming set.

Either way, the delay allowed Wentz to bounce back and get back on track to a second-straight quality start. A 10-pitch third and eight-pitch fourth helped keep his pitch count low enough to stay in for a normal outing after throwing nearly 40 pitches in the second.

Meanwhile, Detroit’s offense continued another rough day at the plate. Kenta Maeda’s splitter had everyone guessing the first time through. The biggest threat he faced came in the first after a leadoff walk and base hit from Spencer Torkelson. Javy Baez grounded into a double play to end the inning, and Maeda cruised until the fifth.

Miguel Cabrera singled with one out to start something, but Zach Short’s follow-up line drive found a glove in left field rather easily. With two outs, Jake Rogers walked, putting Cabrera in scoring position and bringing out Minnesota’s interim manager, Jayce Tingler. Maeda talked his way into facing another batter and struck out Zach McKinstry to get through five.

Wentz returned to pitch the sixth, but he quickly gave up a double to Kyle Farmer and probably should have been pulled at that point. A. J. Hinch left him in, though. He walked our old friend Willi Castro and then got a pop-up to shallow center that Matt Vierling should have caught. A communication error between Vierling and an incoming McKinstry from right field led to a ball off the glove, loading the bases.

Brendan White took over in relief and promptly sent a wild pitch by Rogers to score an insurance run for the Twins. Sigh. Despite the rough start, White got Christian Vazquez to ground out and struck out Michael A. Taylor looking.

Taylor didn’t like the call and said something on his way back to the dugout that got him tossed. Tingler came out to defend his player, but it was hitting coach Derek Shomon who barked loud enough to get ejected by Barrett. It’s never fun to watch an umpire go on a power trip, even if you’re the team that’s supposed to benefit from it. In fairness to the Twins, the strike zone was all over the place for both teams, but the Tigers hitters are certainly less equipped to deal with it.

After everyone settled down, White finished off the sixth with a strikeout of Alex Kirilloff. Minnesota turned to Jovani Moran, who got Torkelson with a 2-2 changeup, but Hinch decided to make a move of his own to counter. Andy Ibanez pinch-hit for Carpenter and drove a double down the right-field line to spark a rally.

Baez walked and the Twins swapped out Moran for Brock Stewart. Schoop singled to load the bases up for Vierling, who made up for his gaffe in center with a 3-2 single through the right side that scored a run. Miggy came up with a chance to be the hero, but he grounded into a double play just as Baez did in the first.

Mason Englert was a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen for Detroit, especially after getting a week off. He retired all five batters he faced and struck out three along the way. Tyler Alexander replaced him in the eighth with two outs and got Vazquez to fly out after allowing Kepler to single.

Stewart was just as effective, though, striking out the side in the seventh and handing things over to Griffin Jax in the eighth. Ibanez singled, but Baez hit into... that’s right, you guessed it... another double play! What a bad night for the offense with runners on base.

An error extended the top of the ninth for Alexander, and Buxton almost punished Detroit with a rocket to left field. Ibanez made a leaping catch that at least robbed Buxton of extra bases if not a home run.

Vierling walked in the Tigers’ half of the ninth, but the rest of the lineup could not handle Jhoan Duran’s 100-mph fastball. He topped 103 mph and I’m pretty sure Miggy just decided to swing as soon as he could after seeing two-straight heaters. The result: a swing and miss on a ball in the dirt that had to be blocked.

Zack Short watched a curveball catch the outer edge of the zone for strike three, and another brutal night in Motown was in the books. Vierling and Ibanez were the only Tigers worth saying anything good about, and the former made an error. Come to think of it, Ibanez didn’t even start the game, so that might have just been a lucky move out of desperation by Hinch.

Anyway, onto the next one... I guess. The second game of the series is set to start at 7:15 p.m. EDT Saturday night. Reese Olson (0-2, 5.59 ERA) is expected to throw for Detroit and Pablo López (3-4, 4.40 ERA) is up for Minnesota.