Tigers Stave Off Sweep in Extra Innings
Six lead changes, five ties, four errors, two blown saves, 25 runners left on base and at least four botched double plays.
The series finale between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins was about as ugly as it gets, until Gerald Laird and Jose Valverde finally put an end to a game that seemed like it was never going to finish.
Laird’s solo home run in the 13th inning lifted the Tigers to a 10-9 victory over the Twins in a 4-hour, 47-minute endurance test on Thursday night.
Ryan Raburn added three hits and two RBIs after entering the game in the sixth inning for the injured Miguel Cabrera and Valverde (2-3) pitched a career-high three innings of relief to help the Tigers avoid a three-game sweep.
“It didn’t look too good, obviously,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But we hung in there and we snuck one.”
Laird, who entered the game in the 11th inning, hit a 1-1 pitch from Nick Blackburn (8-9) into the bullpen in left-center field for his fifth homer of the year.
Blackburn was scheduled to start the series opener against Texas on Friday night and the Twins also used Brian Duensing in relief just two days after he started Game 1 against Detroit.
Duensing was scheduled to start again on Sunday, but that has been backed up and the tentative plan is for Blackburn to start that game. The Twins still were searching for an arm or two from Triple-A to call up to start on Friday night.
“We’re looking for about two or three (pitchers), but they’re on the road at Triple-A,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a call at second base. “We’re trying to get a hold of everybody and trying to make decisions.”
Danny Valencia had three hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who led 7-3 going into the eighth and 9-8 in the ninth only to let both leads slip away. They lead the White Sox by 3-1/2 games in the AL Central.
The Twins blew three chances at double plays, the normally reliable bullpen gave up four runs in the eighth inning and Jesse Crain blew a save when pressed into duty in the ninth for the ailing Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes in a sloppy, back-and-forth game.
The Twins also were without Jason Kubel (wrist) and Orlando Hudson (ankle) and slugger Jim Thome (back) was limited to one pinch-hit appearance. He struck out in the 10th.
Don Kelly’s solo homer in the second inning gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead and the Twins had to rush into their bullpen when Scott Baker left the game with pain in his right elbow after two innings. Baker had another cortisone shot after the game and the team said he has tendinitis in his elbow.
Jeff Manship allowed one run and four hits in four innings of solid relief and the Twins took advantage of an error by Will Rhymes at second base to score three unearned runs in the fifth, getting the final one thanks to some fancy footwork by Delmon Young.
Jason Repko singled to right field with two outs and Young came around third trying to beat the throw from Brennan Boesch in right field. Boesch’s throw was right on the money, but Young danced around Alex Avila’s tag attempt to make it 6-3.
Valencia’s third hit of the game gave the Twins a 7-3 lead heading into the eighth, but their normally reliable bullpen and defense faltered.
Jhonny Peralta and Raburn hit back-to-back homers, shortstop J.J. Hardy committed a costly throwing error and Rhymes followed with a two-run single to make the score 7-7.
Alexi Casilla’s base hit gave the Twins an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Crain served up the first career homer to Casper Wells in the ninth to keep the game going.
“It was just a whole team effort tonight,” Laird said. “It was an unbelievable win.”
Leading 9-8, Brandon Inge couldn’t handle a hot shot at third base from Michael Cuddyer and middle infielders Ramon Santiago and Rhymes ran into each other while trying to turn a double play to allow the Twins to tie the game.
“They missed double-play chances, we missed double-play chances,” Gardenhire said. “A lot of crazy things happened in the game after that and that’s why you end up having to figure out some crazy things here and using all kinds of pitchers.”
Cabrera left the game with biceps tendinitis in his left shoulder and is listed as day-to-day.
“I’m a little worried, but I think I’m going to be OK,” Cabrera said. “They take care of me good. Hopefully tomorrow feel better.”
NOTES: Detroit’s Austin Jackson had three hits, includng what appeared to be a homer in the second inning. Replays showed that the ball landed past the flower beds in left-center field and bounced back into the field. But after reviewing the play, the umpires ruled that it was not a homer and Jackson settled for a triple. … Gardenhire was ejected after Joe West ruled that Casilla dropped the ball at second base. … Jackson had three hits. … Gardenhire said Jason Kubel’s wrist was still sore and will undergo an X-ray and possibly an MRI on Friday. Kubel was hit by a pitch on Tuesday.