Frustrated Tigers drop Game 1 of doubleheader to Twins

Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers’ frustration in the 8-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday might have been best embodied by catcher Eric Haase.

In the second inning, with Spencer Torkelson on first, he lofted a towering fly ball to left. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 96.8 mph at a launch angle of 30 degrees and it traveled 368 feet.

In 20 of the 30 big-league ballparks, that’s a two-run, game-tying home run. At Comerica Park, it was the third out of the inning.

BOX SCORE: Twins 8, Tigers 2

“Honestly, I don’t even know anymore,” said Haase, who has two home runs on the season. “It’s obviously been tough times. I wanted it to have a chance more than it probably did.”

Haase then led off the fifth and was called out by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt on a pitch well below the strike zone.

“Listen, these are the best guys in the world and they work their butts off back there,” Haase said. “I don’t take it personally. It’s just one of those things. I told him it was down. I’m not a guy that makes a big fuss or anything. He said it was down, too. There’s no bad blood there.”

The long flyout, the bad-call strike out, another three-hit game for Torkelson, all of it was rendered moot by the stingy work of Twins left-handed starter Devin Smeltzer, who limited the Tigers to two runs in 6.2 innings.

“The change-up is a plus pitch for him,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He got us in pull mode and that wasn’t good. Javy (Báez) hit a couple to right field. He probably had the best approach of the group.

“But the continual pull-off on the change-up was almost like feeding into his strength and we kept putting the ball on the ground to the left side of the infield.”

Seven times, to be exact. Detroit put 22 balls in play against Smeltzer with an average exit velocity of 88 mph.

Báez’s double in the fourth set up the Tigers’ first run, on a ground out by Jeimer Candelario. They got Smeltzer out of the game with two outs in the seventh when Daz Cameron lined an RBI double into the gap in left-center.

Torkelson’s three hits, his second straight three-hit game, didn’t factor in any runs.

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“It’s definitely nice to see the hits fall, but I’d like them to contribute to more wins,” said Torkelson, who raised his average above .200. “That wasn’t the outcome today.”

The Twins jumped on spot starter Rony Garcia right out of the gate, scoring six runs in three innings.

“I struggled with my location early,” Garcia said through Tigers bilingual interpreter Carlos Guillen. “I made good pitches but in bad locations.”

The big blow was a three-run home run by Twins’ catcher Gary Sanchez. He blistered a hanging curve ball from Garcia and sent it off the Little Caesar’s bullpen roof in left center.

That was the only curveball the Twins put in play against Garcia. They swung at 12 of them total and missed nine. The one bad one he threw spoiled his day.

“We needed him to go as long as he could,” Hinch said. “His command was off and I could tell it was bothering him. He just wasn’t his normal self. His energy was not the same. I do appreciate that he settled in and got us those 15 outs.”

Garcia didn’t allow another base runner after Sanchez’s dinger, retiring the last eight hitters he faced and grinding through five innings. He posted a career-high seven strikeouts.

After the game, the Tigers optioned reliever Drew Carlton back to Triple-A Toledo. Carlton allowed just one hit with four strikeouts in three innings and threw 48 pitches. He was victimized by back-to-back errors by shortstop Javier Báez and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, which set up a two-run single by Max Kepler.

Reliever Will Carlton was activated off the COVID injured list and was available for Game 2.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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