DETROIT 9, MINNESOTA 0 IN DETROIT
Date: Friday, April 28.
Batting star: Shannon Stewart was 2-for-4.
Pitching stars: Matt Guerrier pitched 2.2 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and three walks and striking out one. Jesse Crain struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk.
Opposition stars: Nate Robertson struck out seven in seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and a walk. Marcus Thames was 3-for-4 with a home run (his third), a double, and a walk, scoring twice and driving in two. Ivan Rodriguez was 3-for-4 with a walk. Placido Polanco was 3-for-5 with two runs. Carlos Guillen was 2-for-4 with a double and four RBIs. Craig Monroe was 2-for-5 with two doubles. Chris Shelton was 1-for-4 with a home run (his tenth) and a walk.
The game: The Twins put men on first and second with one out in the first, but did not score. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first on singles by Polanco, Rodriguez, and Magglio Ordonez, but could only get a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead. The Twins got a two-out double from Michael Cuddyer in the second, but did not score. Thames hit a home run with one out in the second to make it 2-0 Detroit. The Twins opened the third with two singles, but did not score.
The Tigers then took control of the game. Singles by Polanco and Rodriguez and a walk to Ordonez loaded the bases with none out. Carlos Guillen hit a bases-clearing double. The bases were literally cleared, because Guillen was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. Shelton then hit a home run and Monroe doubled, still all with none out. The Monroe double finally chased starter Brad Radke from the game, but by then it was 6-0 Detroit.
After all their early scoring threats, the Twins only once got a man past first after that. Tony Batista hit a one-out double in the seventh, but did not get past second base. The Tigers scored three more in the seventh. Doubles by Monroe and Thames plated one run. Curtis Granderson walked, Polanco had an RBI single, and walks to Rodriguez and Ordonez forced home the ninth run.
WP: Robertson (3-2). LP: Radke (2-3). S: None.
Notes: Mike Redmond was behind the plate in place of Joe Mauer, who missed a couple of days. Cuddyer was at first in place of Justin Morneau, who missed a couple of days. Juan Castro was the starting shortstop at the beginning of the season, later to be replaced by Jason Bartlett. Batista was the starting third baseman at the beginning of the season, later to be replaced by Nick Punto. Stewart was the starting left fielder at the beginning of the season, but injuries would force him out of the lineup. Lew Ford, who would take Stewart's place in left field, was in right in this game. Right field, of course, was normally the province of Cuddyer.
Despite the lopsided score, the Twins made only one non-pitcher substitution. Luis Rodriguez entered the game at first base in the eighth. Cuddyer went to right, Ford went to center, and Torii Hunter came out of the game.
The Twins had some really good batting averages early in the season. Redmond was batting .375--he would finish at .341. Rodriguez was batting .368--he would finish at .235. Castillo was batting .365--he would finish at .296. Stewart was batting .356--he would finish at .293. As alluded to earlier, he would also finish on the DL. Mauer, who did not play in this game, would bat .321.
There were also a couple of really bad batting averages early in the season. Rondell White was batting .145--he would finish at .246. Hunter was batting .190--he would finish at .278.
The Twins would lead the league in batting average at .287. They were next-to-last in home runs at 143. Morneau led the team with 34. Hunter had 31 and Cuddyer 24. Mauer was the only other player in double digits, with 13.
This was Radke's last season. He was no longer the ace of the staff, of course, but he was still usually a dependable pitcher. Not in this game, obviously--this was his lowest game score of the season. But he finished 12-9, 4.32, which you'll take in the rotation any time. The ace was Johan Santana (19-6, 2.77). Francisco Liriano joined the rotation in mid-May and pitched really well through the end of July, but then was able to make only two more starts. He went 12-3, 2.16. Boof Bonser joined the rotation in late May and went 7-6, 4.22. Others who made double-digit starts were Carlos Silva (11-15, 5.94) and Scott Baker (5-8, 6.37).
2006, as you probably remember, was the season the Twins stumbled and bumbled early in the year, then got hot and came back to win the division by one game over Detroit. It's really pretty amazing how they remade so much of the team on the fly, partly due to injuries and partly due to signing retreads who had to be replaced.
We haven't had a lot of rewind games where the Twins got blown out. This was the first game of a four-game losing streak. The Twins would get outscored in those four games 41-3. Game-by-game, it was 9-0, 18-1, 6-0, and 8-2. I suspect the game logs were not pretty.
Record: The Twins were 9-13, in fourth place in the American League Central, six games behind Chicago. They would finish 96-66, in first place, one game ahead of Detroit.
The Tigers were 14-9, in second place in the American League Central, 1.5 games behind Chicago. They would finish 95-67, in second place, one game behind Minnesota.
Random rewind: The Twins are 36-30 in Random Rewind games.