Tigers 7, Twins 5: Offense finally breaks out to take down the Twins

Bless You Boys

The whole Bless You Boys staff wishes you all a good Memorial Day as we remember the sacrifices of service members in our armed forces. It was good to see the club wearing the red poppy on this day. The Tigers’ offense gave Tigers’ fans some things to cheer about on the holiday, racking up 13 hits to down the Twins 7-5 at Comerica Park.

Starter Beau Brieske battled his command early on and struggled to attack Twins hitters. A leadoff walk in the first went nowhere, but Gary Sanchez led off the second with a solo shot, and a walk to Trevor Larnach, followed by a Brieske wild pitch, had the Twins right fielder in scoring position. A smart decision from Javier Báez on a Gio Urshela ground ball cut down Larnach at third, and that was big as Jose Miranda followed with a single. Brieske was able to get Nick Gordon and Ryan Jeffers to turn away any further threat.

The Tigers offense didn’t get anything going against Dylan Bundy until the third, when Derek Hill homered to left field to tie things up. The shot was Hill’s first of the year and just ticked off Larnach’s glove over the wall into the Tigers’ bullpen. Jonathan Schoop singled with two outs in the inning but Báez flew out to end any further threats.

Brieske appeared to have settled in, but the Twins suddenly struck in the top of the fourth. Larnach flew out on the first pitch of the inning, but Urshela singled on a ground ball to left than Báez couldn’t quite snare, and Jose Miranda then homered to left to make it 3-1. Brieske got Gordon on a grounder and struck out Jeffers, but the damage was done.

However, the Tigers were ready to answer right back. Candelario singled to lead off the innings, and Torkelson smoked a double to left that scored Candy from first. Willi Castro singled back through the box and Torkelson raced home to tie things up at three apiece.

Brieske stayed composed, and spun a quick top of the fifth, turning things right back over to the offense. Harold Castro struck out against Bundy to open the bottom of the frame, but Schoop lashed a double to left for the 1000th hit of his career. Báez struck out, but Candelario came through again with a line drive RBI single to plate Schoop, and the Tigers had their first lead of the game.

Unfortunately, while generally pitching reasonably well for a guy without a dependable breaking ball, Brieske remained vulnerable. Daz Cameron made a nice catch for the first out of the sixth, but Urshela got Brieske on a center cut changeup right over the plate, homering to left center to tie things back up at 4-4. At that point, with Brieske again facing a high pitch count, A.J. Hinch turned thing over to Joe Jiménez, who got Miranda to ground out to shortstop, ending the top of the sixth.

The Tigers got a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth, but no more, as the center fielder continued to have one of his best games of the year. Joe Jiménez handled the top of the seventh as well and had little trouble. He got Nick Gordon to ground out and then punched out Ryan Jeffers. Luis Arraez singled on a hot shot that Torkelson could only deflect, but Garlick flew out harmlessly to left.

The Tigers got to work immediately in the bottom half, looking to break the tie as Joe Smith came on for Bundy. Jonathan Schoop got them started on the right foot, smoking a line drive up the gap in right center field and burning it around the bases to third just ahead of the relay. Báez bounced out and Schoop couldn’t advance, and then Candelario slapped a little grounder right to Arraez at second and Schoop was a dead duck at home trying to advance. To his credit, Schoop kept the pickle alive long enough for Candy to advance to second, and that paid off moments later as Torkelson grounded one to first baseman Miranda’s right. The Twins first sacker had to throw across his body and the throw was behind Joe Smith trying to cover first. Candy scored, and Torkelson advanced to second as the ball rattled around in foul territory. Willi Castro followed with a solid single, and Torkelson scored to make it 6-4 Tigers.

That was the end for Smith. Rocco Baldelli went to Trevor Megill instead. Daz Cameron then drew a walk from Megill, and the two-out rally looked like it might have legs, but Barnhart was called out on strikes.

Alex Lange took over from Jiménez and quickly got Polanco to pop out. Gary Sanchez singled through the box into center field, but Lange bounced back to strike out Larnach on three straight pitches. Things were looking under control, but Urshela then doubled to left and an error on Willi Castro allowed Sanchez to ramble all the way around from first to score and close the the Tigers lead to just one run. Lange shut it down there, but the lead was a scant one run heading into the ninth. Fortunately, the Tigers had a little more offense left in the tank today.

Megill walked Derek Hill to lead off the bottom of the eighth—this after Hill pulled a fly ball into the left field seats but just foul, eliciting a review—and Hill was quickly in everyone’s head. Megill threw over three times and then a fastball got away from him and from Sanchez, clanging off the glove for a passed ball that let Hill take second with no effort required. Harold Castro and Jonathan Schoop struck out, but Báez drilled a grounder to the six hole and Urshela dove and cut it off but couldn’t make an accurate throw from the ground. Báez was safe, and Hill raced around to score, re-opening a two run lead. 7-5 Tigers.

That left things up to Gregory Soto. Gordon led off with a single, amping up the tension a bit, but Byron Buxton, pinch hitting for Jeffers, chased a slider well off the plate and struck out. Arraez flew out to center field, and Garlick drilled a line drive to Daz Cameron in right field. Soto had his ninth save of the year, and the Tigers had themselves a second straight victory heading into Tuesday’s double-header.

Three-hit games from Schoop and Torkelson were a sight for sore eyes in this one. Derek Hill also hit the ball hard several times and wrecked a little havoc on the bases. Brieske continues to look a little shy of major league caliber, though he’s just getting started overall, but the Tigers bullpen was nails once again. If the hitters start hitting as reinforcements arrive in June, the Tigers are going to be a real pain to deal with this summer.

Game 1 on Tuesday will features RHP Rony Garcia against the Twins’ Devin Smeltzer at 1:10 p.m. EDT. LHP Tarik Skubal will take on RHP Bailey Ober in Game 2.

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