MINNEAPOLIS — Once again, the Detroit Tigers‘ offense didn’t do enough.
The Minnesota Twins, on the other hand, weren’t consistently productive but still did enough in the batter’s box — thanks to new catcher Sandy Leon’s two-RBI performance — to hand the Tigers a 4-1 loss in Wednesday’s series finale at Target Field.
The Tigers (42-64) dropped two of three games in the series.
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Detroit’s offense, averaging a league-worst 3.21 runs per game, finished with four hits (all singles), one walk and 14 strikeouts. Utility player Harold Castro was responsible for three hits, his ninth game this season with that many hits.
But Castro’s teammates couldn’t pushed him across home plate.
The Tigers’ final hit was Castro’s one-out single in the sixth inning.
Right-hander Michael Fulmer, traded from the Tigers to the Twins shortly before Tuesday’s deadline, pitched the sixth inning for his new team. The Twins needed the ex-Tiger to protect a one-run advantage.
Fulmer did just that.
To end the sixth, Fulmer picked off Castro trying to steal second base. He also got Javier Báez to groundout and Eric Haase to strike out on three pitches — slider, sinker and slider.
Stung in the second
Left-hander Tyler Alexander, making his second start since returning to the starting rotation, allowed two runs on two hits and one walk with five strikeouts over five innings. The Twins scored both runs in the second inning.
Jose Miranda singled and Nick Gordon walked before Leon stepped into the batter’s box with two outs for his first plate appearance with the Twins. Leon drove Alexander’s cutter into the left-field corner for a two-run double and Minnesota’s 2-0 lead.
After Leon’s double, Alexander retired the final 10 batters he faced.
He struck out two — Miranda (slider) and Nick Gordon (changeup) — in the fourth and two — Jake Cave (two-seam fastball) and Mark Contreras (changeup) — in the fifth. He also struck out Contreras (slider) in the second.
For his 66 pitches (47 strikes), Alexander tossed 23 four-seam fastballs (35%), 14 cutters (21%), 13 changeups (20%), nine sliders (14%) and seven two-seam fastballs (11%). He recorded 12 swings and misses, including four with his changeup.
Right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero replaced Alexander for the sixth and immediately created a mess when he walked Byron Buxton on four pitches before a wild pitch moved the runner up to second base.
Carlos Correa put the Twins ahead 3-1 with an RBI single to center field.
The Twins tacked on their fourth run in the eighth inning. Right-handed reliever Derek Law loaded the bases with one out for his second jam in as many appearances for the Tigers this season. Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1, but Law struck out Gordon with a curveball to strand two runners in scoring position.
No average Joe
Opposing Alexander, rookie right-hander Joe Ryan carved up the Tigers.
The 26-year-old allowed one run on three hits with nine strikeouts, without allowing a walk, across five innings. Ryan threw 78 pitches (63 strikes), but 79% of them were four-seam fastballs. Of those 62 fastballs, the Tigers swung at 41 of them: 16 misses, 19 fouls and six balls in play.
Ryan’s four-seamer averaged 92.2 mph and generated 16 of his 18 swings and misses.
The Tigers scored their lone run off Ryan in the fifth inning, but they didn’t have to work for the run. Ryan plunked two batters — Willi Castro and Tucker Barnhart — before Riley Greene’s two-out RBI single on a fastball.
With runners on the corners, Victor Reyes struck out swinging for the final out of Ryan’s 17th start this season.