DETROIT – The Twins have never come back from eight runs down to win a game. But Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez dropped a routine fly ball Monday that enabled the tying run to score in the seventh, and seemed is if Twins were going to keep getting breaks until they had their historic victory.
The rally was fueled by errors, deflections and slow people pretending to be fast. But that all stopped over the final two innings, the Tigers blasted two home runs and the Twins lost 10-8 in game with wall-to-wall action.
Nick Castellanos homered in the bottom of the seventh off Twins lefthander Pat Dean, who was pitching in his sixth inning of relief after starter Jose Berrios didn’t survive an eight-run first inning. Martinez atoned for his blunder with a solo shot in the eighth, and the Tigers won for only the third time in 14 games, a run that has put Detroit manager Brad Ausmus’ job in jeopardy.
Berrios gave up seven runs, with Dean giving up the eighth. Rebounding with Jordan Zimmermann and his 1.50 ERA this season required some fortune.
The comeback started with a two-run homer by Kurt Suzuki off Zimmermann (6-2) in the second, then an solo shot from Miguel Sano in the third.
“We talk about playing nine innings regardless of circumstances and score,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And Suzuki got us on the board right away after the eight [runs].”
Trevor Plouffe led off the fourth with a single, then advanced to second on a grounder. As Eddie Rosario batted, Plouffe — who has 10 stolen bases in 19 attempts over his first six big-league seasons — saw how far Castellanos was playing off the base and took off, reaching third easily, then came home when catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball into left field.
Molitor understood the reasoning, but he wasn’t a fan of the move. “Trevor thinks he’s fast,” Molitor said with a smirk.
But it triggered more wackiness. Danny Santana beat out an infield hit as Rosario scored. Eduardo Nunez nearly hit the plate with a chopper, but the ball floated up the middle and deflected off second base for a single that scored Suzuki, making it 8-6. Sano reached first on an infield single when Ian Kinsler fielded his grounder in the hole at second and threw wildly to the base. Sano ran into Miguel Cabrera while reaching the bag, resulting in a couple of very large men falling to the ground in a pile. Santana scored to make it 8-7.
The score remained that until the seventh, when Byung Ho Park hit a two-out double and Plouffe followed with a fly ball that Martinez ran under. But the six-year veteran dropped the ball, enabling Park to score the tying run.
The inning ended when plate umpire Doug Eddings, who had tossed Ausmus at the end of the fifth for arguing balls and strikes, called Brian Dozier out on a questionable pitch. Molitor had to step between Eddings and the protesting Dozier. Plouffe put his hands on his head in disbelief.
“I think everyone knows Dozier wants that at-bat back,” Plouffe said. “He deserves to get it, but it happens sometimes.”
As it turned out, Berrios, in his fourth career start, put the Twins in too big of a hole.
His first pitch of the night was struck for a homer by Kinsler, who tied Molitor for 11th on the all-time list with his 33rd leadoff homer. Berrios’ control … did not exist. He gave up seven runs, three hits and four walks, including one with the bases loaded, and a strikeout in two-thirds of an inning.
“Sometimes when you get in the hole you have to dig out of the hole again,” Berrios said. “I’ll do my adjustments and keep working hard.”
It was the shortest outing for a Twins starter since Trevor May last June 26. Of Berrios’ 39 pitches, only 18 were strikes.
“I’m not big on moral victories,” Molitor said, “but we pecked away and got it back to even. But we made a couple mistakes late and that was the difference.”