Twins 7, Tigers 0: Detroit can’t win seventh straight, Minnesota dominates

Bless You Boys

The Detroit Tigers’ season-high six-game winning streak came to an end Friday night against the Minnesota Twins. The Tigers fell 7-0 and looked nothing like the team that’s shown up for the past three series.

Tyler Alexander looked like he was on his way to a third-straight quality start early, but things began to fall apart in the third. After striking out Jake Cave, Alexander gave up a single to Jermaine Palacios, and Mark Contreras brought him in with a double into the gap in left-center. Detroit had a shot to get Palacios at the plate, but Riley Greene took a bad route to the ball and didn’t get the throw to the cut-off man quick enough to make the play.

The Twins threatened again in the fourth after Alexander gave up a leadoff walk to Gio Urshela, the second of four free passes from the Tigers’ starter. Gary Sanchez lined out to third, but Ryan Jeffers snuck a double down the left-field line that ricocheted off the top of a wall. Baddoo misplayed it on the strange bounce, allowing Urshela to score and Jeffers to reach third, and the crew quickly got together to discuss the play. Two fans (a young girl and an adult man) came very close to touching the ball when it bounced near the wall, but a replay confirmed that both missed attempts to snag it. The booth reversed the original call of fan interference and put a run on the board for the Twins.

Alexander got out of the inning after giving up another run on a single from Cave, making it 3-0 in favor of Minnesota. It’s hard to say what kind of butterfly effect the fan interference reversal had on the game, but one thing is for sure: that little girl’s dad is going to have her working on grounders this week in practice.

Greene led things off in the bottom of the fourth with a nice opposite-field single, and Harold Castro moved him over to second on a base hit up the middle after Javy Báez struck out. Miguel Cabrera came up with a chance to tie the game, but he struck out for the second time on the night. Spencer Torkelson couldn’t get it done either, lining out on a hard-hit ball to the warning track in right.

Minnesota loaded the bases in the fifth, but Alexander got out of the jam without giving up another run. His pitch count climbed to 90, signaling the end of his night (and perhaps his season). It would’ve been nice for Alexander to end the season with three-straight quality starts under his belt, but he wasn’t on his game and A. J. Hinch couldn’t risk bringing him out for another inning.

Meanwhile, Joe Ryan earned the title of Certified Tiger Killer over six innings. Through four starts against Detroit this season, Ryan has a 0.76 ERA (1.02 FIP) and 33 strikeouts over 23 2/3 innings. He added eight Ks to his total tonight and will be a thorn in Detroit’s side for years to come.

Miguel Diaz replaced Alexander in the sixth, delivering Detroit its first 1-2-3 inning since the second. The Tigers couldn’t seize the momentum in the bottom half of the frame after Greene and Castro got on base. Cabrera almost delivered on a line drive to right field, but Contreras knocked it down in right and got the force out at second amidst all the confusion. Torkelson froze on a fastball at the bottom of the zone to end the inning.

Diaz came back out to start the seventh after the clean inning, but he couldn’t replicate things. He walked Contreras on five pitches and quickly had a man on third with no outs, thanks to a stolen base and ball in the dirt. Diaz got Jose Miranda to ground out, and Hinch brought in Will Vest to replace Diaz. Another mistake. Vest put a fastball high and inside, but Correa was ready for it and sent it over the fence for his 22nd homer of the season. 5-0, Minnesota.

Most readers know that Correa was the shortstop linked to Detroit before the front office decided that he was too expensive and shifted to Báez instead. The Tigers might get another shot to sign Correa this offseason if he opts out of his deal, as many expect, and Scott Harris, the Tigers’ new president of baseball operations, would be wise to sit down with Chris Ilitch and find out what it will take to get the cash to bring him in. There’s already talk of Báez moving to second next year, and bringing in Correa at short would give Detroit an elite duo up the middle. Hey we can still hope.

The Twins added another run on a Gilberto Celestino RBI double, and The Tigers’ hopes of mounting a comeback continued to dwindle. Two more baserunners reached in the bottom of the seventh for Detroit, but neither came around to score.

Andrew Chafin pitched the eighth for the Tigers and gave up another run to make the game 7-0 and in danger of getting ugly. Chafin’s numbers haven’t been bad in the second half of the season, but he was better in the first half and considered a viable trade piece at the deadline with another year left on his contract. Al Avila opted not to deal him, and the Tigers might be worse off for that in the long run.

Detroit went down in order in the bottom of the eighth, and it was time for Kody Clemens to get some more work on the mound. Clemens did what Chafin couldn’t and pitched a clean inning with a 60 mph eephus. That’s not a knock on Clemens’ arm. He threw one fastball that came in at 77 mph, but the rest of his 14 pitches were high-arching and much slower.

Torkelson, Reyes and Schoop went down in order to end the game, and it appears the Tigers are back to their old ways after flirting with success for a week. Maybe that’s too harsh, but when position players are taking the mound, what else is there to say?

Perhaps Detroit will bounce back tomorrow and take the series over the weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 pm ET on Saturday.

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