Spoiler alert: they lost. It was really more one bad inning than anything else, but the Tigers lost 5-3, perhaps lost Anibal Sanchez, and for some inexplicable reason still employ Phil Coke.
Things looked good early for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera doubled in a run, moved to third on an error, and scored on a sac fly, giving Sanchez a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound. And Sanchez was fine, keeping the Twins hitless through 2.2 innings. Then Kevin Rand did his jaunt out to the mound and Sanchez was gone. He has a blister on his middle finger, and apparently a pretty nasty one, and who knows if he’ll make his next scheduled start.
Despite the 2-0 lead, the mood immediately turned doomy as it became apparent the Tigers would have to rely on their bullpen to get through the next five (or six) innings – a bullpen that’s frightening when everyone is available, but was completely gassed today after being heavily taxed the last few days. Brad Ausmus wanted to avoid Evan Reed, Ian Krol, Joba Chamberlain, and Joe Nathan if he could, which left the likes of Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, and Jose Ortega – called up today for the sake of having an extra arm available – to try and get through the game.
Ortega was first, and he couldn’t throw strikes. He walked one in the third after relieving Sanchez but the runner was caught stealing. He walked another in the fourth and hit Trevor Plouffe with a hit but managed to get out of the inning without allowing a run to score. He walked two to open the fifth, saw Bryan Holaday throw a sacrifice bunt attempt into left field, and walked another. Ortega didn’t allow a hit, but he walked 4 in 1.1 innings and the Tigers had to bring in Phil Coke with the bases loaded and nobody out with a run already in.
Coke managed to be even worse. He walked in a run, gave up a single, walked ANOTHER batter, then managed to strike out Jason Kubel and get a double play ball. By this point it was 4-2 Minnesota. In fairness to Coke, he was actually good from there, getting the Tigers through the sixth and getting two outs in the seventh. Al Alburquerque got them the last inning and a third, but he gave up a homer to Josmil Pinto to make it 5-2 Minnesota.
While all this was going on, the Tigers were not hitting Phil Hughes, who cruised through seven dominant innings, shutting them down completely after the first. Jared Burton took the 8th and loaded the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera, but Cabrera got himself out, swinging at a bad pitch and grounding into an inning-ending double play.
The Tigers got a Victor Martinez homer and an Austin Jackson double against Glen Perkins in the 9th, but they couldn’t come back and lost 5-3.
Justin Verlander will need to be himself tomorrow, though Chamberlain, Nathan, Reed and Krol did get their rest today. He’ll face Kyle Gibson in the series finale.