Tigers hitters bashed another Twins starter. Tigers starter Justin Verlander reverted to his MVP form of 2011. It looked like many of the games Detroit has dominated the Twins in this season.
“We were kind of down on the ground,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Then, suddenly, they weren’t.
A Twins team that has struggled for weeks to drive in runs began churning out at-bat after at-bat, and things escalated quickly. A dull, boring game that was headed for a predictable finish suddenly took a hard right turn. And Brian Dozier drove fans wild with a three-run walk-off home run to cap an 8-6 victory that will go down as one of the games of the year.
“It was a swing in the 12th round,” Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. “You know you’re getting your tail kicked. And you just take one swing and you knock the guy out.”
The Twins were down 6-1 heading into the ninth, making it their biggest comeback victory since April 12, 2012, against the Angels. According to ESPN stats and info, major league teams trailing by five or more runs in the ninth inning were previously 0-1,057 over the past two seasons.
Detroit was 8-2 against the Twins entering the game, so it was a much-needed win against a division foe.
For Dozier, it capped an eventful week. He hit two walk-off homers in five days after getting snubbed by All-Star voters on Sunday, then finished second in the Final Vote election to Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Maybe Dozier should just show up on Cincinnati for the game anyway.
“Doze right now is definitely our MVP,” Hunter said of Dozier, who is batting .259 with 19 homers and 49 RBI. “He’s doing everything he can to will his team to win and it showed tonight.”
Some of the announced crowd of 31,545 began to trickle out of Target Field around the seventh inning. Those who stayed were rewarded.
Joe Mauer singled and Miguel Sano hit a ground rule double to put runners on second and third against Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Trevor Plouffe struck out, but Eddie Rosario drove in Mauer by lining a single to left off a 97 miles-per-hour fastball. That made it 6-2.
Rondon was replaced with closer Joakim Soria. Aaron Hicks fell behind 0-2, and Rosario took off for second on the second pitch. He was called out, but replays overturned the call. Hicks rallied to draw a walk, loading the bases.
Kurt Suzuki barely moved as Soria’s 69-mph breaking ball hit him in the shoulder, forcing in a run.
Danny Santana, batting .214, came to the plate. Molitor considered pinch hitting with Eduardo Escobar, but wanted to see if Santana could do something to give him some confidence. And Santana came through with a line single to center. Two runs scored to make it 6-5.
“That at-bat was pretty impressive to keep the rally alive,” Hunter said.
That brought Dozier to the plate. And he swatted the first pitch into the seats in left as Target Field began to come apart.
Dozier believes there are special qualities about this particular team. Some of those qualities appeared in the ninth inning on Friday.
“Offensively, we never feel we are out of games,” Dozier said. “I don’t know, the fight, the grittiness, the scrappiness, just the way we take at-bats. Everything, the way we take extra bases.
“The way we play the game is just totally different.”