Minneapolis — Akil Baddoo had struck out three times before he came to bat in the top of the 10th inning and rolled a single threw the drawn-in infield to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
After the way Gregory Soto had escaped trouble in the bottom of the ninth, it seemed like the Tigers might steal a rare win at Target Field.
Gio Urshela slammed a first-pitch sinker from reliever Alex Lange and drove a walk-off, two-run home onto the berm in centerfield to give the Twins a 5-3 win over the Tigers Monday night.
“It was a winnable game,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I thought we played pretty clean. Tough loss.”
The result of the game, though, as painful as it may have been for the Tigers, was secondary.
The players were greeted with the news that outfielder Robbie Grossman had been traded to the Atlanta Braves for 20-year-old left-handed pitcher Kris Anglin.
And hovering over the entire night was starting pitcher Tarik Skubal’s abbreviated outing.
He blanked the Central Division-leading Twins on three hits over five innings in an efficient 77 pitches. He hasn’t given up an earned run in 17 innings.
But as he walked back to the dugout with a 2-0 lead after stranding a runner at third in the fifth, Hinch gave him a fist-bump and a pat on the back – night over.
With the trade deadline looming Tuesday, it made you wonder. But that wasn’t it. Skubal’s velocity had dipped to the low-90s. The Tigers said he left the game with arm fatigue.
“He came in and said he was gassed, the he felt fatigued,” Hinch said. “He said he felt like he couldn’t let it go. As soon as he said that we took him out.”
Skubal afterward said he was optimistic he would make his next start but he didn’t want to take any foolish risks.
“I thought my stuff was good,” he said. “I thought I was throwing the ball well. But something didn’t feel right. My arm felt fatigued. That’s kind of why I came out when I did.”
Hinch afterward praised Skubal for the honest communication.
“By far the best thing he could’ve done was let us know,” Hinch said. “He’s not asking out as much as he’s being honest with his competitive state. This isn’t a question of his resolve or his toughness. This is one of the toughest kids on our team.”
He’s also, in a year where the club has had to use 15 different starting pitchers, one of the most valuable players on the team — now and certainly in the future.
“I don’t want to put myself at risk if something happens,” Skubal said. “That’s why I was like, ‘Hey guys, that’s it. That’s all I got.’ But just going five innings, I put the bullpen in a bad spot, especially when they’ve been so good this year.
“That’s my fault in that situation.”
The Twins banged out four straight singles against reliever Michael Fulmer in the bottom of the eighth. The first three came on 3-2 pitches and then rookie Jose Miranda dropped a broken-bat, two-run single into right field to tie the game.
“We just had a hard time finishing their hitters,” Hinch said.
Soto got the Tigers out of the eighth and then had to extricate himself out of serious trouble in the ninth. Nick Gordon reached on a swinging bunt and Gary Sanchez singled.
With one out, Jorge Polanco drove one to the track in center. Riley Greene ran it down and Gordon went to third. Soto walked Carlos Correa on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. The ball bounced away from catcher Tucker Barnhart and Gordon took several steps toward the plate.
Barnhart recovered quickly and threw Gordon out trying to scamper back to third base.
“I was just trying to get some part of my body on it so it doesn’t get by,” said Barnhart, who knocked in the first two Tigers’ runs. “The pitch was 100 mph and I thought it was going to hit the batter. It didn’t and I was able to knock it down and then throw the guy out.
“Just one of those plays, you know the winning run is on third and you’ve got to do everything you can to knock it down and make a play.”
It was a huge out, especially with dangerous Luis Arraez coming up.
As Bally Sports researched, the Twins have now walked off the Tigers seven times since 2020, that’s the most by any team against any opponent in that span.
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