Minneapolis, MN (WKZO) – Thursday’s off day was just what the Tigers needed to get that sour taste out of their mouths after the bullpen blew a gem from Justin Verlander just two days ago.
The Tigers hit three straight doubles in the sixth inning while scoring fours runs as they shutout the Minnesota Twins 4-0 in the opening game of the three game weekend series at Target Field.
After Austin Jackson walked and Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked, Prince Fielder started the double parade blasting a 2-0 pitch to deep right center field scoring both runners. Victor Martinez then followed with a double scoring Fielder and then scored on the next at bat on Jhonny Peralta’s second double of the game for the fourth and final run. The Tigers pitching staff did the rest.
Rick Porcello continued to pitch spectacularly in the months of May and June as he tossed seven scoreless innings while striking out five and allowing just three hits and not walking a single Twin. Over his last nine starts Porcello is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA and has a quality starts in seven of those games. The Tigers pitching staff as a whole has 14 straight quality starts.
While Porcello was excellent the bullpen definitely kept it interesting in the later innings. Drew Smyly came on in the eighth to replace Porcello and after allowing two runners, a walk to former Tiger Clete Thomas and a catcher’s interference call by Alex Avila put Brian Dozier on base, he was taken out in favor of Joaquin Benoit who recorded the final two outs without any damage done. Jose Valverde came on in the ninth and despite allowing a leadoff walk to Joe Mauer, he got Ryan Doumit to ground into a double and then after hitting Josh Willingham he stuck out Justin Morneau to end the game.
Scott Diamond took the loss for the Twins. He last 5 2/3 innings, striking out just one and giving up five hits and all four runs.
Tigers and Twins play the middle of game their three game set on Saturday with first pitch set for 7:15pm. Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 2.65 ERA) gets the start for Detroit against Samuel Deduno (2-1, 3.47).