MINNESOTA 5, DETROIT 4 IN DETROIT (11 INNINGS)
Date: Friday, September 26.
Batting stars: A. J. Pierzynski was 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. Matthew LeCroy was 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs. Corey Koskie was 2-for-3. Michael Cuddyer was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fourth) and two RBIs.
Pitching stars: Rick Reed pitched two perfect innings and struck out one. Kenny Rogers pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one. Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Dmitri Young was 4-for-5 with a home run (his twenty-ninth), a double, and two RBIs. Alex Sanchez was 3-for-5 with a stolen base, his forty-eighth. Shane Halter was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, his second. Nate Cornejo pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and four walks and striking out one.
The game: The Tigers took the early lead when singles by Sanchez, Craig Monroe, and Young brought home one run in the first and a sacrifice fly brought home another. The Twins had men on second and third in the second and Detroit had men on first and second in the second and third, but it stayed 2-0 until the fourth. Jacque Jones singled, LeCroy walked, and Koskie singled home a run. A walk to Pierzynski loaded the bases and a Cuddyer single tied it at 2-2.
Young homered in the fifth to put the Tigers back up 3-2, but the Twins got the run back in the sixth when LeCroy doubled and scored on a Pierzynski single. The Twins had men on first and third with one out in the seventh, but a double play took them out of the inning. They had men on second and third with two out in the eighth, but again could not score. Detroit had men on first and second in the ninth, but similarly failed to touch home plate, so the game went to extra innings.
With two out in the tenth, Justin Morneau walked and scored from first on a Lew Ford double to give the Twins their first lead. But the Tigers tied it in the tenth when Young doubled and pinch-runner Andres Torres scored on a Halter single. Cuddyer led off the eleventh with a home run. Detroit got a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eleventh and bunted the man to second, but there he stayed and the game went to the Twins.
WP: Eddie Guardado (3-5). LP: Franklyn German (2-4). S: Hawkins (2).
Notes: Ron Gardenhire treated this like a late spring training game, starting many of the regulars but taking them out early. An exception was that Cuddyer started at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz. Shannon Stewart was in left, Jones in right, and LeCroy at DH.
Michael Ryan replaced Stewart in the fifth. Dustan Mohr replaced Jones in the fifth. Rob Bowen replaced Pierzynski in the sixth. Morneau went to first base in the sixth, with Cuddyer moving to third and Koskie coming out of the game. Ford went to center in place of Torii Hunter in the sixth. Chris Gomez pinch-hit for Luis Rivas in the seventh and stayed in the game at second base. Alex Prieto replaced Cristian Guzman at short in the seventh.
Ford was 1-for-2 and was batting .333. Ryan was 0-for-2 and was also batting .333. Pierzynski raised his average to .312. Stewart was 0-for-3 and was batting .306. Jones was 1-for-3 and was batting .304.
Bowen got his first major league hit in this game, a single to center in the eighth, and went 1-for-2. He was batting .167. Prieto was 0-for-2 and was batting .125.
Eric Milton started and pitched five innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and a walk and striking out one. His ERA was 2.65. Reed lowered his ERA to 5.07. Guardado gave up a run in one inning and had an ERA of 2.89. Hawkins lowered his ERA to 1.86.
Sanchez would end up with 52 stolen bases. That was only good for third in the league, behind Juan Pierre (65) and Carl Crawford (55). The last time someone stole as many as 52 bases in a season was 2017, when Dee Gordon stole 60. The last time it happened in the American League was 2014, when Jose Altuve stole 56.
This was not only Rogers' first relief appearance of the season, it was the first time he had been used in relief since 1997.
The Tigers had now lost 119 games, one away from the expansion era record of 120 set by the 1962 Mets.
Record: The Twins were 90-70, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Chicago.