DETROIT 7, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Monday, June 28.
Batting stars: Jim Thome was 2-for-3 with a home run (his seventh), a triple, a walk, two runs, and two RBIs. Justin Morneau was 2-for-3 with a walk. Delmon Young was 2-for-4. Orlando Hudson was 2-for-5 with a double.
Pitching star: Jesse Crain struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.
Opposition stars: Ramon Santiago was 2-for-3 with a walk. Miguel Cabrera was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and two RBIs. Austin Jackson was 2-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch and three runs. Danny Worth was 2-for-4. Gerald Laird was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.
The game: The Tigers jumped out early, scoring four runs in the first before a man was retired and never trailing after that. Jackson was hit by a pitch. Singles by Santiago and Ryan Raburn loaded the bases, and Cabrera and Brandon Boesch each hit a two-run double, giving Detroit a 4-0 lead.
The Twins got one back in the bottom of the first when Denard Span was hit by a pitch, went to third on Hudson's double, and scored on a sacrifice fly. One was all they got, though, and the Tigers moved their lead back to four in the second when Jackson singled, stole second, went to third on Santiago's single, and scored on a ground out.
The Twins started getting back into it in the fourth. Michael Cuddyer led off with a single, Thome tripled, and Young singled, cutting the lead to 5-3. In the sixth Thome homered, narrowing the margin to 5-4.
In the seventh Jackson singled, was bunted to second and scored on a Raburn single. The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the seventh when Hudson singled, went to second on a pickoff error, and scored on Jason Kubel's single, bringing the margin again down to one at 6-5.
But that was as good as it got for the Twins. Laird homered in the eighth to make it 7-5. The Twins went down in order in both the eighth and the ninth and went down to defeat.
WP: Jeremy Bonderman (4-5). LP: Francisco Liriano (6-6). S: Jose Valverde (18).
Notes: Justin Morneau was at first base. As you probably recall, he was having an awesome year until he was injured in early July, bringing his season to a premature end and affecting his entire career. Cuddyer actually played the most games at first base that season, 84 to 77.
Nick Punto was at shortstop in place of J. J. Hardy, who was out due to injury. Cuddyer was at third base in place of Danny Valencia, who was out for a few games.
The Twins did not make any position player substitutions.
Morneau was batting .350. He would end the season at .345. Mauer was batting .300. He would finish at .327. Valencia batted .311. The Twins were third in batting at .273. Texas led the league at .276.
Thome led the team with 25 home runs. Kubel and Young were tied for second with 21. Others in double figures were Morneau (18) and Cuddyer (14). The Twins were ninth in home runs with 142. Toronto led the league with 257, which was 46 more than the second place team (Boston).
Liriano pitched six innings and allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out six. He had a fine year in 2010, even if you couldn't tell it from this game: 14-10, 3.62, 1.26 WHIP. He and Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75) were clearly a step above the others in the rotation: Scott Baker (12-9, 4.49), Kevin Slowey (13-6, 4.45), and Nick Blackburn (10-12, 5.42). Brian Duensing joined the rotation in late July and did very well--as a starter he was 7-2, 3.05. The Twins were fifth in the league in ERA at 3.95--Oakland led at 3.56. They were fourth in WHIP at 1.29--Tampa Bay led there, at 1.26.
Detroit used two pitchers with connections to the Twins, Brad Thomas and Joel Zumaya. Thomas was in his second act in MLB. He had last pitched in the majors with the Twins in 2004. He then went to Japan and to Korea before making it back to the big leagues with Detroit in 2010. He made the most of the opportunity, going 6-2, 3.89 in 49 apperaances (69.1) innings. It was the only good year he would have. He kept pitching, though, going to his native Australia and to Taiwan before ending his playing career in 2014. He has going back to Australia and appears to have a number of successful business interests there, some related to baseball and some not.
This was the middle of a three-game losing streak for the Twins. They were in a stretch where they would win just two of eight. This game was a battle for first place in the division at the time, as you'll see below.
Record: The Twins were 41-35, in second place in the American League Central, a half game behind Detroit. They would finish 94-68, in first place, six games ahead of Chicago.
The Tigers were 41-34, in first place in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Minnesota. They would finish 81-81, in third place, 13 games behind Minnesota.
Rewind Record: The Twins are 39-38 in Random Rewind games.