DETROIT – If there is anyone who can figure out how to handle opponents without his best fastball, it’s Twins righthander Ervin Santana. But he has to be nearly perfect.
He clicked at times on Friday, but there were a couple of pitches that were misfired and went home with a fan.
The Tigers, who were struggling offensively before Friday, hit a pair of two-run homers on the way to a 5-3 win despite the Twins outhitting them 10-3.
Santana, making his fourth start since returning from finger surgery in February, gave up just three hits and walked two. But two of the three hits were home runs and both walks scored on the homers. It’s the way things are going to Santana as all of his pitches - his fastball, slider and change up - are three miles per hour slower since the surgery.
“I don’t worry about the velocity right now,” Santana said. “I just worry about my hand and try to get better each and every day. That’s it. I don’t worry about the velocity. I’m just trying to locate my fastball and my off speed and that’s it.”
It worked for a while, and the Twins gave him a 1-0 lead in the third when Logan Forsythe scored on Niko Goodrum’s throwing error.
Santana allowed just one hit the first time through the order, a triple by JaCoby Jones in the third. Jones scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Gerber. Then Santana issued a one-out walk to Jeimer Candelario in the fourth then tried to throw a slider down and way to Goodrum that flipped over the middle of the plate. Goodrum, a second round pick of the Twins in 2010, drove it into the seats in right as Detroit took a 3-1 lead.
“We attacked him at times pretty well,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “but I don’t know if he is extra motivated or what. But he’s had a lot of big hits in the game we have played thus far.”
The sequence was repeated with two outs in the fifth. Mike Gerber drew a walk and Jose Iglesias homered to left.
The Twins scored a run in the sixth, when Forsythe scored on Mitch Garver’s sacrifice fly, and closed to 5-3 in the ninth on Ehire Adrianza’s RBI double.
In four outings, Santana is 0-1 with a 6.53 ERA. Tigers righthander Jordan Zimmermann, 5-4, held the Twins to two unearned runs over 62/3 innings on eight hits while striking out one. And the Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak.
Mejia to DL
Lefthander Adalberto Mejia was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday after he experienced discomfort in his wrist and arm while trying to play catch on Thursday.
“Especially when he started throwing some flat-ground sliders,” Molitor said. “We sent him back to Minneapolis and we are going to get him checked out. The symptoms are a little strange in that it is not just the forearm. He had a little soreness in the bicep area too.”
The Twins called up righthander Tyler Duffey from Class AAA Rochester to take Mejia’s spot on the roster. They have yet to announce a starter for Sunday.
Tyler Austin arrived at Comerica Park to find two people in his corner. Jake Cave is a former teammate in the Yankees organization. And James Rowan is a former hitting instructor with New York. Plus, he’s familiar with several Twins from facing them while moving up the Yankees chain.
That means there’s a few people who have seen first-hand that he has plenty of power.
Austin hit .263 with three homers and eight RBI in nine games at Class AAA Rochester. His first home run for the Red Wings traveled 454 feet. He wasn’t in the lineup Friday but that should change.
“I don’t want to project too far because I’m not sure how everything is going to work out,” Molitor said, “but I told him there’s a good chance he’s going to be playing against these two lefties the next couple of days.”
Rehab on the road
Robbie Grossman joined the Twins on Friday because of a concert.
Zac Brown Band played at Target Field on Friday. With the field full of equipment, there was no room for Grossman to get outdoor work in. So the Twins flew him out to Detroit to continue his rehabilitation from a right hamstring strain.
“I feel better every day,” Grossman said. “Hopefully by next week we can see some real progress.”