For six and a half innings, this appeared to be one of those games. The Tigers were getting a great outing from their starter, but their offense was MIA against someone that you’d figure they could handle easily.
Luckily, though, the Tigers’ bats woke up just in time – with some help from Minnesota’s shoddy defense. But Detroit’s 7-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday night was much closer than the final score would make it seem.
The early story was the pitching, as the lineups were silenced as part of an Anibal Sanchez/Kevin Correia pitching duel. The former’s success probably isn’t that surprising; Sanchez, after all, came within two outs of throwing a no-hitter against this Twins lineup earlier in the season. While he wasn’t as lights out this time – the Twins got a boatload of runners on base with two outs, but for the most part failed to score any of them – he did hold the Twins scoreless until the seventh. It was in that seventh inning that Sanchez again got two easy outs before making the mistake of walking Pedro Florimon. Florimon promptly stole second – opposing baserunners have been holding track meets against Tigers catching lately – and a two out Brian Dozier single drove him in to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Correia, meanwhile, had been halting the Tigers in their tracks through the first six innings, much to pretty much everyone’s consternation. Correia had been pitching around a series of Detroit singles, but had not been caught in any major threats. The seventh inning was looking to be more of the same, as the first two Tigers went quietly. Bryan Holaday, however, had other ideas, as he snuck a single through the hole in left. Austin Jackson followed with another single, bringing Torii Hunter up. Hunter nearly struck out on a pitch in the dirt before lining one up the gap in right center – aided by a terrible Chris Herrman route – that scored two runs and put Detroit ahead. They weren’t done, though. After a Miguel Cabrera intentional walk, Prince Fielder struck out – except the ball got very, very far away from Ryan Doumit; so far, in fact, that Fielder was able to reach first and Hunter was able to score from second. With the inning still alive, Victor Martinez doubled off the left field wall to add a fourth run.
The Tigers added on in the 8th for good measure as the Twins’ bullpen and defense continued to struggle. The Tigers put two on with a pair of singles and with two out, Torii Hunter hit a seemingly routine grounder to second that was bobbled by Dozier. This loaded the bases for Miguel Cabrera, who did what he does when you leave the door open for him – ripped a double down the left field line to clear the bases.
Drew Smyly was good in relief, and encouragingly shut down righty Ryan Doumit as well as two lefties. Jose Veras got the last out of the 8th and stayed on for the 9th after the Tigers tacked on, picking up a four out save – his first as a Tiger.