It took three pitchers to get three outs in the seventh inning Thursday, but the Twins bullpen shut down the Tigers.
Lefthander Brian Duensing got two outs in the sixth, giving up one hit. Righthander Josh Roenicke, however, got into trouble in the seventh. He walked Omar Infante, the leadoff hitter, then gave up a double to Austin Jackson, putting runners on second and third. He recovered some to strike out Torii Hunter, then intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases.
In came Tyler Robertson to face Prince Fielder. Fielder burned Robertson for a long home run last year at Comerica Park. But Robertson fired a fastball over for strike one, then threw sliders until Fielder struck out.
“I think he was sitting on a first-pitch slider,” said Robertson, who has held lefthanded hitters to a .188 average in his career.
Casey Fien replaced Robertson and got Victor Martinez to pop out to end the inning. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth. After the Twins broke open the game with five runs on four hits in the bottom of the eighth — all scoring with two outs — Rule 5 pick Ryan Pressly finished up in the ninth in his first major league appearance.
“We got in a few messes and some guys made some really big pitches and got out of them,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You have to get through it and stop them the best we possibly could and guys made pitches when they had to.”
Aaron Hicks began his major league career by going 0-for-11 with two walks and seven strikeouts. But he finally got his first major league hit with a sharp two-run single to right in the eighth inning.
The ball was thrown in for Hicks to keep. Fielder held the ball in front of Hicks, as he took off his batting gloves, until Fielder could make eye contact with the rookie and personally put the ball in his hand.
“We told him, ‘Just keep swinging. You’re gonna play for a while here. Just keep swinging and you’ll get it.’ ” Gardenhire said. “To see him get a big hit there was cool.”
Hicks’ parents, who came in for Opening Day on Monday, were still in town Thursday and we able to see their son get his first major league hit.
“They were so proud after the game,” Hicks said.
The Twins didn’t have a clean game in the field.
Jackson was credited with a hit in the first inning on a hard grounder that was mishandled by Justin Morneau at first and could have been ruled an error.
Jackson took off to steal second and slid in safely. Joe Mauer was given an error when his throw deflected over to the hole at short, allowing Jackson to advance to third and eventually score on a groundout.
Pedro Florimon was charged with a throwing error in the third on Hunter’s grounder. Hunter advanced to second and scored on a single to make it 2-0 at the time.
“We got off to a rough start,” Gardenhire said. “We didn’t get off to a good start and normally those things end up killing you.”
• Major League Baseball has given Mauer a hit on a ground ball Miguel Cabrera tried to make a play on during the season opener Monday. It was originally ruled an error on Cabrera. Mauer ended up 3-for-4 in that game and now is batting .308.
• Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe homered in the same game for the ninth time Thursday. The Twins are 8-1 when that happens.