What should’ve been a comfortable victory ended up not so comfortable, but the Tigers did win 12-9 over the Twins on a wild Saturday at Comerica Park.
- Lots, actually, mostly on the offensive side. Let’s start with Eugenio Suarez, who was a single shy of the cycle (he had the chance, but grounded out in the 8th inning – it was the only time he was retired all day). Three hits, two RBI, and a walk – not a bad day for the youngster at all.
- Every Tiger bar one (Alex Avila, who walked twice) had a hit. In fact, all of them except for Avila and Austin Jackson had two hits, with Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos, and the aforementioned Suarez chipping in three each. Victor homered once, hit one off the top of the wall, and flied out to the warning track twice. A little more wind and it would have been an even more memorable day for him. 19 hits in total for the Tigers today.
- The big inning was the third, in which the Tigers used a series of bloops and bleeders – and two homers – to put a seven spot on Minnesota. It was honestly comparable to the flukishly terrible first inning the Angels put on Rick Porcello in Anaheim last season. Interestingly, it was the second seven run inning of the season for the Tigers – the other one was against the Twins, too.
- Anibal Sanchez deserves a mention. Only 6.1 innings thanks to 114 pitches, but he struck out six, walked two, and gave up just four hits. He ended up allowing three runs, but when he left the game, only two had scored. Which leads us nicely to…
- Bullpen. Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen. Sanchez left the game with an 11-2 lead with one out in the 7th – and it had been 11-1 entering the inning. The Tigers were eight outs from a win at that point. The fact that seven runs scored before the bullpen could get those eight outs was absolutely disgusting and disgraceful.
- Evan Reed came first. He inherited a runner at third with one out in the seventh. A passed ball allowed that runner to score, making it 11-3. A single and a two-base error by Torii Hunter (who spent most of the late innings looking like a statue in right and should really be replaced defensively in the late innings – it’s not 2006 anymore) put a runner at third, and following a Reed walk, Danny Santana grounded into a force to score the run and make it 11-4. It says a lot about the state of the bullpen that 11-3 was feeling a bit ominous at this point.
- The Tigers added their 12th run in the 7th, and Phil Coke, who had gotten the last out of the 7th, started the 8th. He gave up a single before getting the next two out, and it looked like the Tigers might escape the inning unscathed. An infield single moved the runner to third, and another weak single – to Hunter – made it 12-5. Al Alburquerque came in next and gave up consecutive singles – the second a two-run hit by Danny Santana, again on a fly ball to Torii Hunter. Suddenly, it was 12-7, and after Alburquerque inexcusably walked Sam Fuld to load the bases, a frustrated Brad Ausmus was forced to bring in Ian Krol to face Joe Mauer with the tyung run suddenly on deck. Krol did get Mauer, and the inning ended.
- Krol got the ninth too, and somehow managed to walk lefty Chris Parmelee to lead off the inning, leading to more groans. After a flyout and a strikeout, Krol allowed a homer to Brian Dozier, making it 12-9. He finally struck out Eric Fryer – and ended up getting the save – but what should have been a big party ended up being far, far too close for comfort.
- The bullpen pitching lines ended up looking like so: Reed 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K; Coke 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K; Alburquerque didn’t retire a single batter, allowing 2 hits and a walk but no runs; and Krol with 1 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 2 Ks. Nobody can hold their head up high after that.
But hey, they won. It was ugly, but they won. They can win the series tomorrow in a Battle of Ricks as Ricky Nolasco faces Rick Porcello.