MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Tigers snapped their 16-inning scoreless streak in the sixth inning Wednesday, as Harold Castro smacked a solo home run to right-center field at Target Field.
He launched another solo shot in the eighth.
In the 10th inning, Jeimer Candelario smoked a go-ahead two-run home run to straightaway center field on a first-pitch fastball from right-handed reliever Trevor Megill. He also drove in Jonathan Schoop, the free extra-innings runner on second base.
“That’s the Candy I need to be consistent with,” Candelario said. “If I can be consistent with that, a lot of things are going to go our way. I’ve got to be consistent with putting the barrel on the ball, and thank God that I helped my team win.”
The Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-2, in the series finale to avoid a three-game series sweep. Detroit improved to 15-28, now 11½ games behind Minnesota for first place in the American League Central.
“It’s always nice to have a happy flight,” Candelario said.
“We needed to find a way to push this one across,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We haven’t played this team very well. We’re going to play them a lot next week. You got to stand up and fight for yourself. We need to win as many games as we can.”
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth inning, thanks to Eric Haase (walk), Derek Hill (single) and Daz Cameron (walk). Hinch called for Miguel Cabrera, a right-handed hitter, to enter as a pinch-hitter, replacing Castro, a lefty hitter, in the batting order.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever pinch-hit for somebody that has two homers,” Hinch said. “Probably not, but that’s the perfect scenario with Miggy on the bench.”
Cabrera, facing left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar, struck out looking on a 3-2 fastball that appeared to land below the strike zone. After the strikeout, Cabrera expressed his displeasure with home plate umpire Charlie Ramos.
Three pitches later, Jonathan Schoop flied out to right field to end the inning.
“We had the best matchup imaginable with Miggy coming off the bench against the lefty who has dominated lefties and has struggled against righties,” Hinch said. “We got the matchup that we wanted. … Borderline pitch, I haven’t looked at it on video. Miggy told me what he thought, that the ball was down. That was unfortunate, but our guys still found a way to win.”
Closer Gregory Soto logged a scoreless eighth inning and returned for the bottom of the ninth. He picked up the first out but hit pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick with a full-count slider to put the potential game-winning run on the bases.
Hinch turned to righty reliever Alex Lange.
Lange struck out Gio Urshela and allowed a single to Nick Gordon. The single to Gordon put runners on the corners before Gordon advanced to second base on defensive indifference. But Lange escaped the jam, as Gilberto Celestino grounded out.
Righty Michael Fulmer, trying to protect a 4-2 lead, loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of 10th inning because of the free extra-innings runner, a throwing error from Willi Castro and a single from Luis Arraez.
“But then Correa comes up, and I knew what I had to do,” Fulmer said. “I had to either get a groundball or a punchout.”
Fulmer bounced back by striking out Correa.
Then, Hinch went to left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin to face Max Kepler, a left-handed who has demolished the Tigers for four of his six home runs this season. Kepler, with the bases loaded, struck out swinging.
Gary Sanchez popped out to Spencer Torkelson, who made a running grab in foul territory, for the final out of the game.
“I had a lefty coming up,” Chafin said of his matchup with Kepler. “I knew I was going slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider until we got the results we wanted. Fortunately for us, he was swinging at everything but the rosin bag.”
Harold Castro is the offense
Twins right-hander Dylan Bundy entered the game with 18 earned runs allowed in 26 innings, for a 5.14 ERA, across six starts. The 29-year-old carved up the Tigers over 5⅔ innings in his seventh outing, allowing one run on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He tossed 63 of 85 pitches for strikes.
Bundy lowered his ERA to 4.54.
The Tigers didn’t score against Bundy until the sixth, when Castro connected with a fourth-pitch 89.9 mph four-seam fastball for his second homer this season. The ball traveled 381 feet and was hit with a 100.1 mph exit velocity.
“I thought our at-bats were good,” Hinch said. “They’ve been trending in the right direction, which is good. But we did put up some pretty decent at-bats. We had nothing to show for it for the longest time, except for Harold’s balls leaving the ballpark.”
Right-handed reliever Emilio Pagan took the mound for the Twins in the eighth inning, aiming to protect a one-run lead. Castro, the first batter he faced, nuked a second-pitch 94.3 mph four-seam fastball for his second home run of the game and his third homer in 25 games.
This time, the ball — hit with a 105.3 mph exit velocity — traveled 423 feet to center.
The two-homer game marked Castro’s first career multi-homer game. He has 11 home runs in his 256-game career in the majors, spanning five seasons.
“Hittin’ Harold?” Fulmer said. “Let’s start calling him ‘Homerin’ Harold.’ I was just watching the home run that he hit into the second deck on my phone just now. I didn’t realize it went that far. We can’t see that far from the bullpen in that part of the park.”
The Tigers finished with four runs on eight hits and six walks with nine strikeouts. Harold Castro went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Hill and Willi Castro chipped in two-hit performances. Six players combined for the six walks, including Javier Báez recording his first walk since May 8.
Detroit’s offense improved to 2.74 runs per game — which is still the worst in baseball by nearly half a run.
Rony García and friends go to work
The Twins used one swing to net a pair of runs — it came from Trevor Larnach with one out in the fourth inning. Right-hander Rony García, opening the Tigers’ bullpen-only game, surrendered the two-run home run.
Ahead 0-1 in the count, García offered a second-pitch four-seam fastball.
It was his 70th pitch of the game.
Larnach disposed of the fastball, cranking the ball 431 feet to right-center field with a 112.4 mph exit velocity. He plated Gary Sanchez, on board after a five-pitch walk.
“I missed it,” García said. “It was a little bit high.”
García allowed two runs on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts across four innings. The 24-year-old, in the third start of his career, fired 48 of 78 pitches for strikes.
For his 78 pitches, he tossed 48 fastballs (63%), 20 curveballs (26%) and eight changeups (11%). He recorded five swings and misses — four fastballs and one curveball — to go with 10 called strikes.
“Rony did a really good job,” Hinch said. “Some of those pitches he’s thrown this year, it’ll set him up if we need another start from him in five days. It was important for both he and Peralta to somehow get us into the sixth.”
Peralta, a right-hander, replaced García and completed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He guided the Tigers through the fifth and sixth frames before turning the game over to righty Joe Jiménez.
Jiménez threw 12 of 13 pitches for strikes and struck out the side swinging in the seventh: Gordon (94.7 mph fastball), Celestino (85.2 mph slider) and Byron Buxton (84.5 mph slider).
“I have zero doubts about what they’re doing,” García said of the bullpen. “They know what they’re doing, and I felt pretty comfortable and secure that they were going to do their job.”