DETROIT 5, MINNESOTA 4 IN DETROIT (11 INNINGS)
Date: Thursday, September 25.
Batting stars: Justin Morneau was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his fourth. Michael Cuddyer was 1-for-3 with two walks.
Pitching stars: Johan Santana pitched five shutout innings, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out three. J. C. Romero pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.
Opposition stars: Nate Robertson pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and three walks and striking out five. Dmitri Young was 2-for-3 with two walks. Carlos Pena was 2-for-5. Shane Halter was 1-for-2 with a home run, his twelfth. Craig Monroe was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-second. Chris Mears struck out three in two perfect innings.
The game: The Twins put men on first and second with two out in the second but did not score. In the third, however, singles by Lew Ford, Cuddyer, and Matthew LeCroy got the Twins on the board with a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers did very little for six innings. In the seventh, however, Young and Pena led off with singles. A bunt moved them to second and third and a ground out scored one. Andres Torres then walked and went to second on defensive indifference. Ramon Santiago delivered a two-run double to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
The Twins went back in front in the eighth. Ford walked, went to second on a ground out, and stole third. Cuddyer then walked. A sacrifice fly made it 3-2 and Morneau hit a two-run homer to make it 4-3 Minnesota.
The lead didn't last, as Monroe hit a one-out homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie it 4-4. The Tigers had a man on third with two out in the tenth but did not score. In the eleventh, however, Halter hit a two-out home run to win it for Detroit.
WP: Mears (1-3). LP: Brad Thomas (0-1). S: None.
Notes: The Tigers were trying to avoid breaking the 1962 Mets record for worst record in the expansion era. The Twins, who were simply getting ready for the playoffs, certainly didn't put up as much resistance as they might have. Not to say that the players weren't trying, but they were definitely using a B or even C lineup and bullpen. LeCroy was behind the plate in place of A. J. Pierzynski. Morneau was at first base in place of Doug Mientkiewicz. Denny Hocking was at short in place of Cristian Guzman. Cuddyer was at third in place of Corey Koskie. Michael Restovich was in left, Dustan Mohr in center, and Ford in right. Michael Ryan was the DH. Substitutes were Rob Bowen replacing LeCroy at catcher in the sixth and Chris Gomez replacing Luis Rivas at second in the seventh. The relief pitchers used were Carlos Pulido, Grant Balfour, Jesse Orosco, Juan Rincon, J. C. Romero, and Thomas.
Ryan was 1-for-3 and was batting .346. Ford was 1-for-4 and was batting .328. Bowen was 0-for-1 and had a batting average of zero (0-for-4).
Orosco retired the only man he faced to make his ERA 7.56. Thomas gave up one run in 1.2 innings to make his ERA 10.13. This was only his second appearance of the season.
This was the only major league win of Chris Mears' career. 2003 was his only season in the majors. He went 1-3, 5.44, 1.48 WHIP. He appeared in 29 games (3 starts) and pitched 41.1 innings. He would spend the next two seasons in the minors before ending his playing career. He was born in Ottawa and pitched for Team Canada in the 1999 Pan American Games, the 2001 World Cup, and the 2006 Olympic qualifying tournament. He later scouted for the Red Sox.
I have to wonder about the "defensive indifference" ruling on Andres Torres in the seventh. It was a 1-1 game with two out and men on first and third. Did the Twins really not care if Torres took second. I mean, I know it was a meaningless game for them, but still, you play the game. Were they really not holding him on or something? It just seems strange.
The loss snapped an eleven-game winning streak for the Twins. Again, I know it was a meaningless game for them, and the logical thing for them to do is get ready for the playoffs. Emotionally, though, I'm sure I was upset the that the winning streak ended with B and C players on the field and Brad Thomas on the mound.
Record: The Twins were 89-70, in first place in the American League Central, six games ahead of Chicago and Kansas City.