The Minnesota Twins smacked four home runs, but another rough start by their ace led to a loss to the last-place Detroit Tigers.
The Minnesota Twins have had a brutal homestand so far and that was before coming into their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers. After dropping two-of-three games to the Chicago White Sox, the Twins needed to regain their focus and take care of a Detroit team that entered Friday’s series opener with a record of 37-88, the worst in Major League Baseball.
But just as they failed to capitalize on a trip from the White Sox, the Twins shot themselves in the foot again as they fell to the Tigers in the opener by a score of 9-6. The loss helped shrink the Twins’ lead in the American League Central as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals to pull within 2 1/2 games.
The biggest frustration in this game was the performance of Jose Berrios, who is looking less like a staff ace with every start he makes. Berrios tight-roped his way through the first five innings, keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard, but allowing five hits and getting out of several jams.
In the sixth inning, things finally reached a boiling point as Harold Castro and Miguel Cabrera both singled to lead off the inning and Dawel Lugo delivered an RBI double to cut the Twins lead at the moment to 3-1. After a Travis Bemerette walk, Ronny Rodriguez would crush a grand slam inside the left field foul pole to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead and end Berrios’ night.
The effort thwarted what was looking like a good night for the Twins early as they staked Berrios to a 3-0 lead. Nelson Cruz would hit an RBI double in the first inning, Miguel Sano would crush his 24th home run in the second to put the Twins on the board and Jake Cave hit his third bomb of the season to make things look like it would be an easy night for the Twins.
The performance of starter Drew VerHagen would tighten up from there as the 28-year old who entered the game with a 6.67 ERA struck out a career-high 11 batters as he kept the Twins at an arm’s length in six innings.
The Tigers would extend their lead in the eighth inning as Sergio Romo had a tough night allowing an RBI double to Castro that scored two more runs to dig a 7-3 hole entering the bottom of the eighth.
The Twins would rally and chip into the lead with Sano’s second home run of the game and 25th of the season that scored Luis Arraez, but Jorge Polanco would strike out with the bases loaded after a pitching change in the middle of his at-bat to snuff out the rally.
In the ninth, Rocco Baldelli seemed to overthink things leaving Ryne Harper in the game as he would give up a pair of insurance runs to Demeritte on an RBI single. Although the Twins would make things interesting after Cave’s second home run of the game in the bottom of the ninth, it was too big of a hole to climb out of as the Tigers snagged the improbable victory.
At this point, the Twins have to buckle down and take the final two games of this series just to salvage their homestand. The Twins will send Kyle Gibson (11-6, 4.40 ERA) to the mound on Saturday against Edwin Jackson (3-6, 8.46 ERA) as they look to even up the series.