Minneapolis, MN (WKZO) – You couldn’t tell if they lost it in the sun or if no one called it, but somehow Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson allowed a fly ball off the bat of Eduardo Escobar to land in between them, scoring the tying and game winning runs for the Minnesota Twins, as they defeated the Tigers 3-2 with two runs in the ninth inning.
Phil Coke took the loss and a blown save after allowing a single to Brian Dozer and then the game winning double to Escobar after replacing Joaquin Benoit with no outs in the ninth. Benoit allowed a walk in the ninth before being replaced by Coke. Benoit pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
The bullpen’s struggles ruined what was otherwise a superb outing from starter Anibal Sanchez who didn’t take long to show why the Tigers made the right decision offering him a five-year $80 million contract during the off-season. Sanchez tossed five scoreless innings while striking out five but didn’t factor in the decision. While Sanchez didn’t allow a run, he had some command issues in the first when he walked two batters. However, he didn’t allow a hit until a Justin Morneau single in the fourth.
Miguel Cabrera had two RBI singles, one in the third and one in the fifth off Twins starter Kevin Correia for the Tigers’ only two runs.
Tigers reliever Brayan Villarreal allowed the Twins first run in the seventh inning when former Tiger Wilkin Ramirez came on to pinch hit and doubled down the right field line scoring Trevor Plouffe from second base. Villarreal then struck out Aaron Hicks to end the inning.
*After two quick outs in the third, Austin Jackson was walked by Correia on 10 pitches. Hunter followed Jackson’s at bat with a single. A Cabrera single scored Jackson for the Tigers first run.
*Lefty Darrin Downs relieved Sanchez, striking out three in 1 1/3 innings.
*Tigers pitchers struck out 10 Twins.
*Prince Fielder stranded runners on first and second to end the third inning after grounding out to third on a check swing.
*Victor Martinez struck out on three straight pitches to open the fourth for the Tigers. Martinez went 0-4 and is hitless in seven at bats so far after missing the 2012 season after a knee injury.
*Omar Infante short hoped a sure double play to Fielder at first extending the Twins fourth inning. Sanchez struck out Chris Parmelee the next at bat, ending the inning.
*Torii Hunter was thrown out while trying to advance to third from first on Cabrera’s single in the fifth. Infante scored on the play for the Tigers’ second run before Hunter was thrown out
Game Notes: Each team’s leadoff hitter reached based in the 1st inning. Austin Jackson reached on a bloop single, while Aaron Hicks walked…Tigers are 16-5 in their last 21 games at Target Field...Rick Porcello will start on Thursday against Mike Pelfrey at 1pm.