Detroit Tigers squander lead twice, lose 5-4 heartbreaker to Minnesota Twins in 10th

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers closer Bryan Garcia took the ball in the bottom of the 10th with plans of giving his team a victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins had other plans. Singles from Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler combined to score two runs off Garcia, a new closer in the Tigers’ slew of attempts to find the right piece.

Despite recent offensive woes, the Tigers (22-31) battled back, but fell in the 10th, 5-4, on Tuesday night at Target Field. 

The Tigers are five games back of the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL’s eight and final spot in the postseason.

The Tigers took the lead in extras when first baseman Jeimer Candelario, hitless in straight 16 at-bats, drove a first-pitch fastball through a hole in the left side of the infield to score Victor Reyes.

[ What to expect as Lloyd McClendon leads Tigers to finish line ]

They also blew the lead a few innings earlier.

In the bottom of the eighth, reliever Buck Farmer gave up Max Kepler’s home run to right field, tying the score at 3. One inning earlier, Willi Castro drove in Daz Cameron, who doubled, for what was then the go-ahead run off reliever Tyler Duffey.

The two-game series wraps up Wednesday with rookie right-hander Casey Mize matching up against right-hander Kenta Maeda. There are five games left this season, along with a potential unscheduled doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Solo blasts haunt Skubal

The leadoff homer to Byron Buxton and second-batter walk to Josh Donaldson put left-handed rookie Tarik Skubal in a tough spot in his seventh MLB start. He came back to retire 10 Twins in a row. He had one out in the fourth inning when Mitch Garver’s solo home run snapped his streak.

Detroit’s starting pitchers have allowed six leadoff home runs this season and eight with no outs in the first inning.

[ Tigers’ Tarik Skubal shows he can bounce back from early errors ]

Giving the Twins a 2-1 lead, Gaver crushed a 93.7 mph fastball over the left-field wall. The next four batters went single, strikeout, walk and hit-by-pitch, forcing interim manager Lloyd McClendon to bench Skubal with Buxton stepping in with the bases loaded.

McClendon’s decision paid off, as Buxton struck out on three 96 mph offerings from reliever Jose Cisnero. Skubal finished his 78 pitches with two runs on four hits and two walks in 3⅔ innings. He had six strikeouts.

Skubal threw 62% fastballs, 17% sliders, 12% changeups and 10% curveballs. He got 12 swinging strikes, including seven with his fastball, which averaged 93.6 mph and maxed out at 96.1 mph. His slider got three additional swinging strikes.

Daz’s helmet troubles

Cameron, a rookie, doubled with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and tried to score on Reyes’ single to left field. But Eddie Rosario came up throwing, and Cameron wasn’t even close to beating the toss to home plate. When he rounded third base, his helmet bobbled up and down on his head. Instead of letting it fall off, he slowed down and tried to keep it on.

He continued adjusting his helmet until he slid into home, but the throw was well ahead of him.

Cameron finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored.

Recognizing Gardy

Before the Twins announced the Tigers’ starting lineup, they showed a video to remember Ron Gardenhire’s 16-year managerial career. He managed the Twins from 2002-14, winning 1,068 of 2,107 games.

Gardenhire announced his retirement Saturday at 5 p.m., just an hour before the Tigers took the field at Comerica Park to play against the Cleveland Indians. He finished his career with 1,200 wins, 132 in Detroit.

[ Ron Gardenhire ends career as manager with a shot of Fireball. What will he do next? ]

Dixon’s 2020 debut

After a second-inning groundout, left fielder Brandon Dixon got a chance to do damage in the top of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. He was called up from Toledo on Tuesday to join the taxi squad but was promoted to the active roster when he arrived at Target Field.

[ Tigers’ 2019 home run leader Brandon Dixon returns with no pressure ]

In Dixon’s second at-bat this year, the Tigers’ 2019 home run leader (15) grounded into an unconventional 6-2-5 double play. Shortstop Ehire Adrianza threw home to Garver to get Castro out, and then Garver tossed to Donaldson to get Miguel Cabrera — completing the double play.

The next batter, Niko Goodrum, flew out to center field.

In the sixth inning, Dixon was replaced by pinch-hitter Harold Castro with runners on first and second base. He finished his 2020 debut 0-for-2.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at 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. 

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