DETROIT – Jake Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his previous start against the Yankees. Tuesday, he showed that was less of an outlier during a struggling season and more of a surge.
Odorizzi carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning against the Tigers before giving up two runs. Still, he set the Twins up to beat Detroit 5-3, their third consecutive victory.
The Twins broke through in the sixth inning with back-to-back RBI singles from Tyler Austin and Jake Cave against Detroit starter Daniel Norris. They added three runs in the seventh, on a solo homer by Chris Gimenez and a two-run double by Austin.
Odorizzi entered the bottom of the seventh with a very manageable 74 pitches thrown, but gave up two runs on three hits and was pulled after 84 pitches. In 6⅓ innings, he gave up two runs on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He has a 1.98 ERA over his past two outings.
“He was rolling,” manager Paul Molitor said. “His pitch count was really good. Maybe one of his best nights in terms of how deep he went and how few pitches he had to throw to get there.”
Odorizzi snatched the spotlight from the return of Miguel Sano to the starting lineup. The Twins third baseman missed 12 games after injuring his surgically repaired left leg while sliding into second base Sept. 4 in Houston.
Sano’s first game back was rough, as he struck out in all four at-bats — the first two looking, the last two swinging. It was his ninth four-strikeout game of his career, his second this season.
“Some big swings on pitches he had to hit that he fouled back,” Molitor said. “Then he got caught guessing a couple times with two strikes. Obviously some rust in the at-bats we saw.”
Sano is looking to salvage a season in which the 2017 All-Star is batting .199 with 13 homers and 41 RBI.
“For me, it is great to finish strong and try to win a couple more games and do as good as we can,” Sano said.
Sano reported to spring training weighing 293 pounds after having a rod inserted into his left leg to treat a stress reaction. He began the season in the majors but missed 24 games in May because of a strained left hamstring, When he returned, he hit .191 over 17 games, prompting the Twins to take the unusual approach of sending him to Class A Fort Myers on June 14.
There, Sano lost 20 pounds and worked on his swing. He returned July 28 lighter — but hit only .202 over 33 games when he injured his leg in Houston.
He plans to finish with a flourish, then head into an offseason during which he wants to lose even more weight.
He plans to train with Yon Soriano, a Dominican track star who participated in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Sano might play winter ball if things go well.
“As soon as everything is done here, I will go back to the Dominican,” he said. “I will travel between Fort Myers and the Dominican. Everything depends on how I feel and how my body is. If I get in good shape before December.”
How much lighter does he want to get?
“Maybe 260, 255, 245, that’s my goal,” Sano said. “I want to stay my whole life at third. I want to play third base for a long time.”