DETROIT – With injuries stacking up and losses coming in an almost unrelenting pace, a marathon five-hour road game with two rain delays was probably not what the momentum-less Twins needed.
And yet they stayed engaged from Kyle Garlick's leadoff homer through to Caleb Thielbar's final pitch, beating the Detroit Tigers 7-3 on Friday at Comerica Park in the first game of a three-game series. The Twins improved to 12-19 with the victory over a team that, at 9-24, is the only one in the AL with a record worse than theirs.
Jorge Polanco followed the theme Garlick set hitting his own leadoff homer 375 feet to left-center in the second inning.But when the rain started to fall after 4 ½ innings, the Twins sat through their first 35-minute rain delay. Starter Matt Shoemaker returned to the mound after, pitching a scoreless fifth to put him in position to earn his second victory of the season.
"I got on the bike, just kind of kept my body loose, my legs and arms moving, and threw in the cage as well," Shoemaker said of his downtime. "Just didn't want to sit for 10, 20, 30 minutes and get cold. Kept the body moving. Bike. Keep the arming moving. Little bit of throwing. And then good to go."
Shoemaker had his best start since his first one, pitching five shutout innings and giving up four hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The Michigan native made his Twins debut at Comerica Park, giving up one run in six innings in a 15-6 victory April 5, but he hadn't won since.
In the top of the sixth, the Twins added two runs after Polanco and Miguel Sano walked. They came around to score on Max Kepler's single and Andrelton Simmons' groundout, respectively.
Reliever Cody Stashak had a shaky sixth inning, giving up a leadoff single to Jeimer Candelario before walking Miguel Cabrera, who reached base four times Friday after starting the day hitting .098. Willi Castro followed with a three-run homer, pulling the Tigers within 4-3.
Another rain delay, this one lasting 1 hour, 9 minutes, followed, but the Twins returned by scoring a big run when Polanco drove in Josh Donaldson on a two-out double in the seventh.
Kepler's solo home run in the eighth, and Sano's two-out, line-drive single in the ninth inning made it a four-run lead. Alexander Colome, Hansel Robles and Caleb Thielbar combined to pitch three scoreless final innings, a boost of confidence for the bullpen.
"Colome went out there, gave us a very nice clean inning," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I thought he looked great, that's as good as I've seen him throwing the ball. He was very sharp."