Tyler Duffey was charged with the loss on Saturday, but he felt like he pitched pretty well.
Duffey was summoned to relieve Kohl Stewart with runners on second and third, and quickly got Grayson Greiner to ground into an inning-ending out, keeping the Tigers’ lead at one run. “That was big,” manager Paul Molitor said of Duffey, who has prevented all seven inherited runners from scoring this season, a huge improvement on the 46 percent who scored in 2017. “We needed an out.”
When the Twins tied the score, Duffey retired the Tigers quickly in the fourth inning, too.
But in the fifth inning, he hit Niko Goodrum with a 1-2 fastball that got away, setting off a chain of events that wound up costing the Twins the game.
Victor Martinez hit a bouncer to Joe Mauer, who elected to try to get Goodrum at second base, perhaps hoping to start a double play, rather than tagging first base for the out. But the ball wasn’t hit hard enough and Mauer’s throw was late, and while Goodrum was originally called out, replay overturned the call.
“It’s one of those plays where, you beat the guy too bad to get the double play,” Duffey shrugged.
Then came Mikie Mahtook, and the pitch that Duffey wishes he had back. On a 2-2 count, Duffey tried a curveball, but it was too far inside. Mahtook leaned out and hooked the ball into the left-field stands, a three-run homer that put the Tigers in front for good.
“I can’t remember the last time I hung a breaking ball to a right-hander. Couldn’t tell you,” Duffey said, shaking his head. “It wasn’t in the middle, it wasn’t one of those that floats into the zone. It started inside and went straight down. Wrong location, wrong guy.”
“Obviously he wasn’t trying to throw a breaking ball where he threw it,” Molitor agreed. “Had him set up for it, too. Just didn’t get it where he needed to.”
The Twins drew 31,904 on a muggy Saturday night in August, remarkable for two teams that are far out of the postseason race. It was the fourth-biggest Target Field crowd of the season, behind only Opening Day and a pair of games with the Red Sox in June.
Minnesota has drawn 1,497,513 in 61 dates this year, and will go over 1.5 million on Sunday. Their average of 24,549 is down from their 25,640 of last season, but they still lead all AL Central teams in attendance, both at home and on the road.