Detroit Tigers right-hander Rony García helped his team by bouncing back from a rocky start and retiring the final eight batters he faced.
The 24-year-old, making his second start this season, willed his way through the fifth inning in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He saved at least a couple bullpen arms from taking the mound in an emergency situation.
Still, García gave up six runs through the first three innings.
The Tigers lost, 8-2, to the Twins.
With the Game 1 loss, the Tigers fell to 18-30 overall and 11 games behind the Twins for first-place in the American League Central. Game 2 of the doubleheader begins at 7:10 p.m., with left-hander Joey Wentz starting and second baseman Kody Clemens making his MLB debut.
Detroit’s offense posted two runs on eight hits, zero walks and six strikeouts in Game 1, finishing 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Rookie Spencer Torkelson went 3-for-4 with one double. In his past two games, he’s 6-for-8 with two doubles and one strikeout.
The Tigers failed to string together several successful plate appearances.
Twins left-hander Devin Smeltzer, in his fourth start this season, allowed two runs on six hits and four strikeouts, without conceding a walk, in 6⅔ innings. He gave up one run in both the fourth and seventh innings.
A one-out single from Torkelson in the seventh led to the Tigers’ second run. Daz Cameron had a runner on first base with two outs when he laced a double to the gap in left-center field.
The double chased Smeltzer from his start, with the Twins in charge 8-2.
But the Tigers, entering Tuesday averaging 2.81 runs per game, didn’t score for the remainder of the game. They were blanked by righty reliever Griffin Jax in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
Tigers infield woes continue
In the fourth inning, designated hitter Miguel Cabrera created a scoring opportunity with a one-out single to left field. He returned to the lineup after missing Sunday and Monday with lower back tightness.
Javier Báez stepped up to the plate.
He hammered a second-pitch changeup, producing a 99.7 mph exit velocity, for a double to right field. His double — his first extra-base hit since May 23 — put two runners in scoring position for Jeimer Candelario.
Candelario’s groundout scored Cabrera for a 6-1 deficit.
In the seventh inning, the Tigers’ middle infield spoiled right-handed reliever Drew Carlton’s second inning of work.
Báez and second baseman Jonathan Schoop committed back-to-back fielding errors to start the seventh, and both runners (Jermaine Palacios and Luis Arraez) scored for an 8-1 Twins lead on Max Kepler’s single to center field.
It marked Schoop’s first error in 47 games this season.
Báez, hitting .203, has five errors in 39 games.
Carlton, in his fourth outing, gave up two unearned runs with four strikeouts in three innings, throwing 34 of 48 pitches for strikes. Right-handed reliever Jacob Barnes fired a scoreless ninth inning.
Potent Twins offense has efficent Tuesday
The Twins attacked García for two runs in the first inning and four runs in the third inning. He gave up six runs on seven hits and one walk with a career-high seven strikeouts across five innings.
Down 2-0 thanks to Trevor Larnach’s two-run double in the first, García rebounded with a clean second inning before the best hitters in Minnesota’s lineup caused him more trouble.
Three batters reached safely to begin the third: Byron Buxton (single), Kepler (RBI double) and Jorge Polanco (single). Kepler finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and one walk in his five plate appearances.
Ahead by three runs on Kepler’s double, the Twins doubled their margin moments later with one out. Gary Sanchez crushed García’s curveball for a three-run home run.
A 6-0 advantage for the Twins was more than enough.
Garcia threw 54 of 90 pitches for strikes.
He used 41 four-seam fastballs (46%), 30 curveballs (33%) and 19 changeups (21%). These pitches resulted in 11 swings and misses: one fastball, eight curveballs and two changeups.