Detroit – This one was a little gnarly.
A single being played into a triple. A missed cut-off man resulting in two free bases. A runner getting picked off second base with the bases loaded. A poorly-timed wild pitch.
Video from this will not be sent to Cooperstown.
But in the penultimate game of the season at Comerica Park Saturday night, the Tigers found a way to clip the Minnesota Twins 3-2. Nobody cares about aesthetics when you win, especially not the small but rowdy crowd who stood and cheered the final out.
Fittingly, the Tigers’ go-ahead run in the sixth inning was unearned
Javier Báez was hit with a pitch by reliever Ronny Henriquez to lead it off. He tagged and moved to second on a long fly to center by Eric Haase. He scored from second when first baseman Luis Arraez threw errantly to Henriquez covering first base on a grounder by Harold Castro.
Haase had three hits, including his 13th home run of the season.
But it took a most improbable escape to preserve that lead in the top of the eighth. The Twins had a single, two walks, a wild pitch and a stolen base and didn’t score.
Jose Miranda hit a ground ball that rookie third baseman Brendon Davis, in his big-league debut, couldn’t field cleanly. It was scored a single. Reliever Alex Lange then uncorked his major league-leading 15th wild pitch.
Then it got interesting. Gregory Soto was summoned with one out and Miranda at third base. He walked the first two hitters he faced to load the bases. But he extricated himself, getting pinch-hitter Ryan Jeffers to hit into a 1-6-4-3 double-play.
With three lefties coming up in the ninth, Tigers manager AJ Hinch saved lefty Andrew Chafin to close it out. Which he did with the help of a diving catch in right field by Victor Reyes, robbing Carlos Correa of a hit.
Tigers starter Drew Hutchison, as he tends to do, was living on the edge. The Twins weren’t chasing pitches on the edges of the strike zone and they were fouling off many of his better-located pitches. The ones that caught too much of the plate, they punished.
The Twins fouled off 25 pitches and the 11 they put in play had an average exit velocity of 99 mph.
And even though he didn’t finish the fifth inning, only two runs were charged to his ledger and he left with the score tied at 2.
Give reliever Jose Cisnero an assist for that. He gave up an RBI single to Gio Urshela that tied the score in the fifth. Tigers left fielder Akil Baddoo ill-advisedly threw home with very little chance to get Luis Arraez. By overthrowing the cutoff man, he allowed runners to advance to second and third.
With the bases loaded and two outs and Gary Sanchez at the plate, Cisnero picked off Urshela at second base. Insane.
It was the last start of the year for Hutchison, who made 18 starts and gave the Tigers 105.1 innings, second most to Tarik Skubal. Pretty impressive considering he was a non-roster invitee to spring training, made the club as a reliever and was designated for assignment and signed back three times.
The Twins started veteran right-hander Dylan Bundy, who has been leaking oil all month. In his last four starts he’d been roughed up for 17 earned runs, including seven homers, in 16.2 innings.
And the Tigers banged out three hits and a run in the first inning. Riley Greene ended up on third base when his bullet single eluded right-fielder Matt Wallner. Báez singled him home.
But the Tigers would manage just two more hits off Bundy through five innings. One was Haase’s first home run since Sept. 9, 44 plate appearances. He pounded an 88-mph, elevated fastball into the visitor’s bullpen in the fourth.