DETROIT – Another night, another quiet clubhouse. Another night to try to shake off the latest tough loss.
“It is frustrating,” Twins lefthander Scott Diamond said, “but good teams have to come back and fight through these, and we are still showing some fight.”
The Twins battled for seven innings Thursday. They had a lead that seemed safe, with a usually capable bullpen at their disposal.
Then things went haywire as a three-run lead evaporated over the final three innings and the Tigers scratched out a 7-6 victory behind three runs in the seventh and one in the eighth. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera homered in his fifth consecutive game.
Diamond was given a lead but couldn’t get through the sixth. Casey Fien, Brian Duensing and Jared Burton tried to fight off Detroit but in the end, the Twins lost their ninth consecutive game and left wondering why they can’t put together nine innings of solid baseball.
“Normally you have a lead and give it to your bullpen and they do a really nice job,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You can see how tough those guys are on the other side; they find ways to get the ball through.”
“If we keep scoring runs like that, we should be OK.”
Ah, the silver lining. Josh Willingham hit two home runs and drove in four runs, signs he’s out of his slump. Thanks to his bat, the Twins led 6-3 in the seventh. Then they needed three relievers to get out of the bottom of the inning.
Prince Fielder hit an RBI single off Duensing to make it 6-4. Victor Martinez added an RBI single to make it 6-5. Burton entered the game but was greeted by an RBI double by Jhonny Peralta to tie the score.
The final run was the cruelest of them all. Burton, with runners on first and second in the eighth, reached for Fielder’s grounder and watched it deflect off his glove. Brian Dozier was headed up the middle but tried to reverse course. The ball rolled just out of his reach and into right as Omar Infante scored what turned out to be the winning run.
The announced crowd of 32,804 — it was less than that in 43-degree weather — were jubilant. They were treated during the game to highlights of the Red Wings beating the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and their Tigers roared back to hand the Twins their ninth loss in a row.
“It’s tough,” Burton said. “I felt the offense did enough early on where we should’ve won that game. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my job. It cost us a much-needed win and we’re obviously going through a tough stretch. So for it to get away from us like that hurts a little bit.”
The Twins’ starting rotation has been struggling, failing to have a starter pitch six innings since Vance Worley last Friday — and Worley has been sent to Class AAA Rochester. Diamond tried to get through six Thursday.
Avisail Garcia hit a two-out, two-strike pitch in the fifth that was off the plate to right field for a single. Diamond ended up facing four more batters that inning, giving up a run. That carried into the sixth, when he was knocked out on Brayan Pena’s two-out double.
The bullpen door opened — and opened again and again.
“I really think it’s on me when we have to have those guys come in,” Diamond said.