The Twins opened well, but the Tigers closed better.
After the Twins threw seven scoreless innings at Detroit, the Tigers jumped on the Twins bullpen in the eighth and held on for a 4-2 victory Tuesday night to open the second-to-last series of the season at Target Field.
Trevor Hildenberger gave up three hits and walk in the eighth, including RBI singles by Nick Castellanos and Niko Goodrum. He was replaced by Trevor May, who gave up a two-run double to James McCann.
Hildenberger, who has earned most of the Twins' saves since Fernando Rodney was traded, has given up runs in five consecutive outings, posting a 29.73 ERA over that stretch. Manager Paul Molitor said Tuesday he will try different pitchers in different roles this week. So he inserted Hildenberger in the eighth instead of the ninth.
"We talked to the guys about doing some things differently this week, giving some people different opportunities to get outs in different slots," Molitor said. "It's just one of those things."
Jake Cave hit an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, but Detroit got out of the eighth when Logan Forsythe flied out to center against Alex Wilson with the bases loaded.
For the second outing in a row against the Tigers, righthander Kohl Stewart and his opener, lefthander Gabriel Moya, worked it perfectly. Moya pitched a scoreless first, and after the Twins scored in the bottom of the inning on a Joe Mauer single and Jorge Polanco double, Stewart followed with six shutout innings.
Stewart, the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, looked composed and in control, lowering his ERA to 3.68. He gave up two hits and struck out five Tuesday. The 23-year-old has a 1.33 ERA over 20⅓ innings in four appearances this month, all as the "primary pitcher."
"I think I've just been executing better, to be honest," said Stewart, who had a 6.61 ERA in four August starts, including his first two against the Tigers. "First couple starts, I wasn't throwing strikes and I just didn't execute well. I think lately I've just been executing better."
Berrios will take a break again
Righthander Jose Berrios is expected to make his final start of the season Friday when the Twins play a doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox. The All-Star will likely pitch more than 190 innings in a season for the first time in the majors — he pitched 192 innings in 2017 between the World Baseball Classic, Class AAA Rochester and the Twins — and has a chance to end the season with a sub-4.00 ERA for the second consecutive season.
Berrios, 24, confirmed he will not pitch in the Puerto Rican winter league this offseason. He has had a full workload and knows the Twins prefer he spend the offseason in his normal conditioning program to get ready for spring training.
He frequently has posted video on Twitter of his offseason workouts — last year, that included him pushing a small truck across a field.
"I'm going to take three weeks to rest, then start working out," he said. "There weeks is long enough. Then I get bored."
• There remains a chance that catcher Mitch Garver will get a few at-bats during the final week of the season. Garver, out since Sept. 12 because of a concussion, won't catch but is getting close to being able to play first base, serve as the designated hitter or pinch hit. The Twins were waiting for the go-ahead from MLB to use Garver.
• Molitor is holding out hope Miguel Sano can play this week. The third baseman has played only once since Sept. 5 because of a lower left leg contusion.
• Righthander Aaron Slegers, sidelined since July 11 by a sore right shoulder, was activated from the disabled list.