Slumping Tigers Offense Busts Out Against Twins
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prince Fielder had three hits and two RBIs and the struggling Detroit Tigers offense broke out in a big way in a 10-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Alex Avila drove in three runs on two doubles, Drew Smyly (2-1) gave up four runs — three earned — on six hits in five innings and Brennan Boesch added three hits and two RBIs for the Tigers, who bounced back from a three-game sweep at the hands of AL Central-leading Cleveland.
Denard Span had three hits for the Twins, who got another poor outing from their starting pitcher. Anthony Swarzak (0-4) gave up six runs on nine hits in 3 2-3 innings in his first start since April 19.
Delmon Young had three hits and an RBI against his former team and the Tigers pounded out 16 hits.
One of the busiest men on the field was first base umpire Alan Porter, who had several bang-bang plays at the bag throughout the game.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire both argued with him early in the game, and Porter tossed Twins third baseman Jamey Carroll in the eighth after calling him out on a close play. Gardenhire came out to defend Carroll and got ejected himself, and the manager tossed his hat as he left the field.
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After signing Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal in the offseason, offense figured to be the least of the Tigers’ problems in 2012. But they entered the day just 17th in the majors in runs scored and managed just six runs total in being swept by the Indians.
Avila entered hitting .225, Young was hitting .248 with just two homers, and Fielder was at a pedestrian .286 with seven homers.
Leyland said before the game that he was up late on Thursday night trying to think of ways he could shuffle the lineup to give his team a spark before coming to a realization.
“Why am I busting my brain to figure out who I can juggle or put in there?” Leyland said. “That’s really not the answer. This lineup is our team. This is who we’re going with.”
The faith in his team paid off on Friday night.
Fielder and Young led off the second with singles and Boesch and Avila delivered RBI doubles in Detroit’s four-run second inning.
The pair came through again in the fourth, with Boesch leading off with a double and Avila doubling him home for a 5-2 lead. Ryan Raburn added an RBI-single to make it 6-2 and chase Swarzak.
Fielder’s double in the fifth off of lefty Francisco Liriano made it 7-2, but nothing has come easy for the Tigers this season and it certainly wasn’t going to start at Target Field.
The Tigers’ poor defense struck again in the first, when shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s throw pulled Fielder off the bag to prevent what should have been a routine double play. Brian Dozier followed with a bases-loaded double to get the Twins on the board 2-0.
The sixth inning was even worse. Right-hander Brayan Villarreal had two throwing errors, one that squandered a double play chance and another that allowed Trevor Plouffe to move into scoring position. He scored on a single to center by Carroll to make it 7-5, but only after Quintin Berry’s throw home hit the pitching mound.
But the Tigers put up three more in the seventh, with Fielder delivering an RBI single and Young coming through with an RBI-double to help pad the lead to 10-5.
NOTES: Leyland said OF Austin Jackson (abdominal strain) had an MRI that came back clean and he could accompany the team to Boston next week. Jackson likely would do some baseball activities during the four-game series to ramp up for a possible activation on June 1 for the Yankees series. … Miguel Cabrera stole his second base of the season in the fifth. … Carl Pavano (2-3, 4.91) takes the mound for the Twins on Saturday against Max Scherzer (3-3, 5.79). Pavano has been pitching through some discomfort in his shoulder, but said it’s been feeling better of late. Scherzer got off to a dreadful start this season, but struck out 15 in his last outing, a win over Pittsburgh.
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