If only it had been Father’s Day.
Martin Perez, just back from Dallas after witnessing the birth of his new son Martin Jr. on Thursday, gave up only four hits and struck out seven Tigers on Mother’s Day. But Daniel Norris was even better, spoiling the poignancy of the occasion by shutting out the Twins through six innings, and the AL Central leaders had to settle for a split of their four-game series with Detroit after a 5-3 loss Sunday at Target Field.
The trip home to Texas “was special for me. I was with the doctor, and when I saw [his son’s] face, it was amazing. I was crying,” Perez said. “He’s healthy and everything is OK back home, so [I] just need to focus now.”
His focus seemed fine, except for two regrettable pitches. Perez hadn’t given up a run in his previous 15 innings and hadn’t absorbed a loss all season, but he surrendered both of those streaks by leaving a couple of mistakes in the strike zone. Nicholas Castellanos golfed the first one, the only curveball Perez threw all day, into the second deck in left field for two runs, and Brandon Dixon pummeled the second one, a cutter in on the hands, into the upper deck next to the foul pole in the second inning for a 3-0 Tigers lead.
“Yes, the only one. [After Castellanos crushed it], I went, ‘I’m not going to throw it today,’ ” Perez said. “Fastballs in, two-seams out and away, changeup and cutter when I need it. After that, everything was going good.”
Well, until Castellanos led off the sixth with a line drive that ricocheted off Perez’s left foot.
The lefthander tried to continue but admitted he feared the injury was serious, and he was removed. It’s just a bruise, the Twins determined later, and Perez said he expects to make his next start Saturday at Seattle.
There would be no welcome-to-the-world victory for Martin Jr., thanks to Norris, who kept the Twins off second base until the fifth inning and off the scoreboard until the seventh.
Ehire Adrianza spoiled the shutout with a home run, igniting a rally off Detroit’s bullpen, which retired only two of the six batters it faced that inning. Jake Cave doubled, Byron Buxton singled him home, and Willians Astudillo, fresh off the injured list and hitting leadoff for the first time in his career, doubled.
A Jorge Polanco pop-up left the rally up to Nelson Cruz — except that Cruz was unable to bat because of a sore left wrist. “That was painful,” Cruz said. “That’s the spot you want to be in.”
The Twins sent up AL home run leader Eddie Rosario to pinch hit, but when Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire summoned lefthander Daniel Stumpf, the Twins lifted Rosario in favor of Mitch Garver.
It looked like the perfect move when Garver blasted a pitch high and deep down the left-field line. Umpire Chad Whitson ruled that it hooked just foul, and the announced holiday crowd of 27,373 groaned. So did the Twins manager.
“We have a pretty good angle from where we’re sitting, and we thought it was probably — it was pretty close to being over the pole,” Rocco Baldelli said. “Sometimes those over-the-pole home runs are impossible, once they’re called on the field, to change either way. In the dugout, we legitimately thought — we’re biased, of course — we thought it had a chance to stay fair.”
Garver eventually walked, as did Marwin Gonzalez to force in Buxton and make it 5-3, but Buck Farmer struck out C.J. Cron, leaving the bases loaded.
The Twins also put two on in the eighth against Joe Jimenez, when Adrianza walked and Buxton doubled, but Astudillo popped out to end that threat. Shane Greene pitched around a two-out single in the ninth for his AL-leading 15th save in 15 tries.
“We gave ourselves a chance to tie and maybe win the game,” Baldelli said. “We had chances. It just wasn’t our day.”
Check back on Father’s Day.