This time, the Detroit Tigers didn’t have it in them.
They’ve made 11 comeback wins in the shortened season, because of offensive outbursts from rookies, recent newcomers and veterans alike. But facing Minnesota Twins starter Michael Pineda, the Tigers’ bats slowed.
Relievers Cody Stashak and Taylor Rogers didn’t budge, either.
One day after the Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak, the Twins (26-17) responded soundly in a 6-2 win Monday at Target Field. Pineda pitched seven innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts in a 104-pitch outing, his second back from a 60-game suspension.
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As of Monday afternoon, the Tigers (18-21) are 2½ games behind the AL’s eighth and final spot in the expanded 16-team playoffs.
Detroit returns to Comerica Park for the first time since Aug. 30 with a chance to regroup in a two-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Right-hander Spencer Turnbull starts Monday, followed by lefty Matthew Boyd in the finale.
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Right-hander Michael Fulmer tossed 47 pitches in his seventh start of the season and didn’t get one strike swinging, using 62% sinkers, 21% sliders, 11% four-seam fastballs and 6% changeups. He got 13 swings on his sinker — nine in play and four fouls.
Although Fulmer had seven called strikes, but was without a strikeout for the first time since Sept. 15, 2018, and was chased in the third inning.
[ Michael Fulmer hopes he can turn the corner as postseason push begins ]
He looked strong through two innings before falling apart once No. 9 hitter Ryan Jeffers homered on a 3-2 sinker to begin the scoring. LaMonte Wade Jr. followed with a double on a pop-up (which had a .020 expected batting average) that fell between second baseman Isaac Paredes and left fielder Christin Stewart. Fulmer walked Josh Donaldson on four pitches and gave up a single to rookie Brent Rooker to load the bases. Bench coach Lloyd McClendon — filling in for manager Ron Gardenhire, who missed his second game in a row with symptoms related to gastrointestinal issues — had seen enough.
Fulmer gave up four runs on four hits and one walk, and his ERA jumped to 8.24. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, he is still searching for the efficiency to get into the fourth inning.
Daniel Norris pitched 3⅔ of one-run ball in relief of Fulmer.
Candelario crushing Twins
The Twins held a 4-0 lead after the third inning and seemed ready to keep the Tigers off the board until first baseman Jeimer Candelario doubled to left field. He scored on a single from shortstop Willi Castro.
The 26-year-old Candelario, who moved from third base to first earlier this season after C.J. Cron’s season-ending knee injury, touched home for the second time in the seventh inning, once again after a double to left field.
Against the Twins in eight games this season, Candelario is 11-for-25 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs. He has five walks compared to seven strikeouts. The Tigers and Twins play twice more — Sept. 22-23 in Minneapolis.
The first seven games of third baseman Isaac Paredes’ career were spectacular due to his pitch recognition: 7-for-22 (.318) with one double, one homer, six RBIs, four walks and eight strikeouts.
Since then, he is 1-for-24 with one walk and eight strikeouts in 10 games. He hasn’t reached base in seven straight games.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.