DETROIT 9, MINNESOTA 4 IN DETROIT
Date: Sunday, September 28.
Batting stars: Chris Gomez was 2-for-3 with a home run. Michael Ryan was 2-for-3 with two doubles. Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-3 with a double.
Pitching stars: Kyle Lohse pitched three innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out one. Juan Rincon pitched a perfect inning. Grant Balfour struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Dmitri Young was 3-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Bobby Higginson was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourteenth), a double, and two runs. Brandon Inge was 2-for-4 with a double. Ramon Santiago was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his tenth. Craig Monroe was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-third. Mike Maroth pitched six innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out two.
The game: The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first but did not score. It cost them, as the Tigers got on the board in the bottom of the first on Higginson's home run. Detroit had a man on third with one out in the third but did not score. The Twins got a two-out double from Ryan in the fourth but did not score. So, it was still 1-0 going to the fifth.
With two out in the fifth, Gomez homered and Justin Morneau and LeCroy hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Shane Halter walked and scored from first on Inge's double to tie it 2-2.
Then came the sixth. The Twins brought in Adam Johnson to pitch. It would be the last appearance of his major league career, and let's just say he did not go out on a high note. Higginson doubled and scored on Young's single. Monroe hit a two-run homer. Carlos Pena popped up, but Shane Halter, Inge, and Santiago all singled to bring home another run. Kenny Rogers then came in and gave up a run-scoring double to Alex Sanchez and an RBI single to Warren Morris. It was 9-2 and Johnson was charged with six runs in a third of an inning.
The Twins got a couple runs back in the eighth when Alex Prieto reached on an error, Michael Cuddyer doubled, and Michael Restovich and Lew Ford had RBI singles. But the Twins never threatened to get back into the game.
WP: Maroth (9-21). LP: Johnson (0-1). S: None.
Notes: It was another spring training game for the Twins. LeCroy was behind the plate in place of A. J. Pierzynski. Denny Hocking was at short in place of Cristian Guzman. Dustan Mohr was in left, Ford in center, and Cuddyer in right, with Ryan at DH.
There were also numerous substitutions. Justin Morneau pinch-ran for Mientkiewicz in the third and stayed in the game at first base. Gomez replaced Luis Rivas at second base in the fourth. Prieto came in for Corey Koskie in the fifth. Prieto went to second, with Gomez moving to short and Hocking to third. Rob Bowen replaced LeCroy behind the plate in the seventh. Restovich pinch-hit for Ryan in the eighth.
Ryan ended the season batting .393. Ford was at .329. Mientkiewicz was 1-for-3 and was at .300. Bowen was 0-for-2 and ended at .100.
The Twins' bullpen was Brad Thomas, Johnson, Rogers, Rincon, and Balfour. Thomas had an ERA of 7.71. Johnson's ERA was 47.25.
Detroit avoided equaling the Mets' expansion era record for losses, ending the season at 43-119.
Record: The Twins ended the season at 90-72, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Chicago. They would play the Yankees (101-61) in the American League Divisional Series.