Jonathan Schoop provided the offense, Joey Wentz and the bullpen provided the pitching, Kody Clemens provided some intrigue and the Tigers provided the fans with some cheers.
Schoop hit a two-run home run in the first, followed it with a two-out, two-run single in the second and the pitching staff did the rest as the Detroit Tigers (19-30) beat the Twins 4-0 in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The Tigers have won five of their past seven games.
Detroit lost Game 1 of the doubleheader, 8-2, and afterwards manager A.J. Hinch lamented falling behind early — the Tigers are 6-25 when the opposition scores first and 13-5 when they score first on the season.
They didn’t wait long to get the bats going in the nightcap. Willi Castro led off the bottom of the first with a single to left and Schoop hammered a 2-2 slider some 387 feet into the left field seats.
“Very nice to have the lead and Jonathan put a nice swing on it, in a couple at-bats, he had a nice night,” Hinch said. “Getting that lead and then hitting the super special spin ball that shot by Polanco was nice in the second to be able to tack on a couple runs.”
The Tigers put two runners in scoring position again in the second and, after a Castro strikeout, Schoop again came to the plate and hit the ball off the end of his bat to the right side of the infield.
Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco ranged to his left, slightly over ran it and got a bad hop as the ball caromed off his glove and into center field, allowing Jeimer Candelario and Daz Cameron to score.
“I got a nice cheap base hit, finally,” Schoop said. “I’ve been hitting the ball hard right at them … so I just got lucky, but thank God, we scored two runs to get to four, so I’m happy.”
After a Harold Castro double, it looked like Javier Báez was going to make it a 6-0 game, but Trevor Larnach made a diving play in right field to take away a two-run hit.
Another injury for pitching staff
Still, the early run support seemed as if that may be enough for starter Joey Wentz, who was in control for most of his appearance.
Wentz retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, allowing just a single with two outs in the third, on 51 pitches (34 strikes) through four innings.
The 24-year-old’s fourth pitch of the fifth inning was a 2-1 cutter for a strike to Larnach, but immediately after the pitch members of the infield signaled to the dugout for trainer Doug Teter and Hinch to take a look.
After a brief discussion, Wentz was pulled after suffering a left-shoulder strain.
“It ruins a good night for him because that’s the best we’ve seen him in spring training, regular season, even on video in Triple-A,” Hinch said. “I feel bad for him because he’d settled in very nicely, inside the strike zone doing everything, levitating fastballs, mixed in a couple good sliders … he was pretty dominant.”
Willy Peralta relieved Wentz, walked two batters in the inning, but got out unscathed when Jermaine Palacios hit a ground ball to Candelario for the inning-ending force out.
“I feel bad Willy Peralta has had to warm up (quick) a couple times, that’s the third time this year, second time this week which is not the most comfortable thing to do,” Hinch said. “Once he got himself situated he was able to get through that inning.”
After Schoop’s single in the second, the Tigers bats went quiet, getting just three base runners (two walks and a hit-by pitch) for the rest of the game.
Fortunately for the offense, the Tigers’ pitching shut down the Twins. Minnesota managed just one hit in the first 6⅓ Innings before Larnach ripped a double to right in the seventh off of Andrew Chafin.
He advanced on a fielder’s choice, but was stranded at third when Báez charged a bouncing ball up the middle and fired a strike to Torkelson to beat Nick Gordon by half-a-step and save a run.
Jason Foley worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Michael Fulmer struck out two in a perfect ninth to close out the victory.
“Gonig into the day I was hoping to stay away from (Gregory) Soto and (Alex) Lange which is hard to do especially if the game is close,” Hinch said. “This one was just far enough separated where I could stay away from those guys.
“It couldn’t have worked out any more perfectly for us to use the guys who were fresh in a win.”
Clemens makes debut in front of dad
For the first time in many years there was Clemens on the diamond in Detroit, only this time he was wearing the Old English D.
Kody Clemens, son of legendary pitcher Roger Clemens, made his MLB debut.
The former MLB star was on hand for Tuesday’s game.
“It was great, I had a blast the whole game,” Clemens said. “Definitely butterflies there in the field in the first inning and in the box for the first at bat … I had so much fun out there.”
Clemens finished the game 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
He hit a line drive in the first inning, but left fielder Kyle Garlick had him well positioned to make the put-out. He walked on four pitches in his next at bat, before going down swinging in each of his final two.
Hinch said Clemens did everything the team hoped he would — including a play early on when he didn’t cut off Baez who charged across the field to make a running throw and recording the final out of the game — and he will be in the lineup again on Thursday in left field.
“He was good, there’s no anxiousness or fear, he was happy and bouncing around, I mean it’s his major league debut, why wouldn’t he be happy,” Hinch said. “It’s a good sign, his walk rate is now higher in the big leagues that it is in the minor leagues.
“But he will be back out there tomorrow … hopefully he gets that first knock out of the way.”
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