DETROIT - It’s clear that Shane Greene is no David Price or Anibal Sanchez. Talk about letting down his team: Greene gave up a run to the Twins.
Greene was otherwise the equal of his All-Star teammates, however, much to the Twins’ frustration. Greene allowed only four hits in eight innings, and a solitary, shocking, unearned run, which represents the sum total of Minnesota’s offense this season. The Twins slunk off to Chicago after absorbing a 7-1 loss before a few thousand Comerica Park fans who sat waiting through a 3-hour, 36-minute rain delay for the game to start.
In contrast to Greene, Kyle Gibson was ineffective, but unlucky, too, needing 89 pitches to retire 11 hitters. He gave up eight hits, six runs and five walks, and didn’t strike out a Tiger hitter, but the tone was set by the first inning, when two popups fell where Twins fielders couldn’t reach them, and a chopper threaded between third base and short. The result was two runs, and yet another deficit for the Twins.
“It wasn’t anything to rave about as far as an offensive output,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Oh, the irony.
Minnesota’s offensive output so far this season is laughable — literally. The Twins stopped a 34-inning scoreless streak, including 24 innings of futility this season, thanks to a misplay by Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. It was the second-longest shutout run at the start of a season in major league history, two games short of the record set by the Cardinals in 1943.
“The guys were kind of joking about it, believe it or not, after being down 22-0 [for the series],” Molitor said. “You’ve got to start somewhere and be a little bit lighthearted after you suffer through [24 scoreless] innings.”
It came after Joe Mauer led off the seventh inning with a walk and Kennys Vargas looped a sinking line drive into short left-center field with one out. Neither Cespedes nor center fielder Anthony Gose could reach it, and the ball ricocheted off Cespedes’ glove toward the wall. That allowed Mauer to round third base — making him the first (and only) Twin to advance that far this season — and head home, scoring the Twins’ first run since Game 161 of last season.
“That’s all we got, and we got a misplay to get it,” Molitor said, “but we got a point on the board!”
Greene made sure it was the only one, quickly recording two more outs to end the inning, and the Twins put only one more runner on base the entire game.
“He’s got a nice two-seamer along with a cutter,” Molitor said. “He was getting the cutter in on lefthanders, and the righthanders were getting fooled. Not dissimilar to [Price and Sanchez], he got on a roll and looked really comfortable.”
Gibson never did, finally departing the game after giving up a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez in the fourth inning, though his catcher was even more uncomfortable. Chris Herrmann, starting a Twins game behind the plate for the first time in more than 18 months, took a foul tip off his mask on the first pitch Gibson threw. The blow opened a cut on the bridge of his nose, and the game was delayed to stop the bleeding.
After an inning, he felt dizzy, so the Twins quickly removed him from the game and administered a concussion test, which came back negative. “Just knowing you’re bleeding, especially from your face, it just kind of freaked me out,” Herrmann said. “Just a freak accident. But everything is fine.”
If only his teammates could say the same.