MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Detroit Tigers were supposed to be scoring a lot more runs than they have so far this season. They nearly cost themselves this three-game sweep at Minnesota by leaving eight runners in scoring position.
But Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder have been steadily slugging them back, and the big guys sure had their swings in shape this series.
Cabrera’s two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning lifted the Tigers to a 4-3 victory over the Twins on Sunday, making up for 10 men left on base.
“I was having nightmares during that game, because we’re just leaving those guys on out there,” manager Jim Leyland said.
His afternoon had a happy ending. Cabrera crushed an 0-2 pitch to center field from Matt Capps (0-3), who took his first blown save in 10 tries, after rookie Quintin Berry started the inning with a single.
Capps threw an off-speed outside pitch to Cabrera on Friday night with a 0-2 count, and Cabrera singled to the opposite field. This time, the closer fired his fastball inside and watched Cabrera hit the ball over the wall.
“You’ve got to be ready for anything,” Cabrera said.
All-Star right-hander Justin Verlander hit a long home run during batting practice, so Leyland said he jokingly yelled at Cabrera to try to do the same during his dramatic at-bat.
“Boom. Next pitch,” Leyland said. “It was funny.”
Jose Valverde followed for his ninth save in 11 attempts. Denard Span led off with a single. After Ben Revere popped his bunt up for the first out, Joe Mauer hit a hard line out to left. Then after Span stole second, Josh Willingham walked. But Justin Morneau flied out to right.
Brayan Villarreal (1-1) recorded two outs in the eighth for the victory.
Fielder had two more hits and went 9 for 12 in the series plus two walks for the Tigers, who have won 21 of their last 27 games against the Twins. Cabrera raised his career average at Minnesota’s 2½-year-old ballpark to .408, including nine doubles, four homers and 18 RBIs.
“We’re here to win games, not here for personal numbers,” Cabrera said. “If you think about that, you put pressure on yourself.”
Said starter Rick Porcello: “A clutch home run like that, late in the game, to put us ahead: That’s why he’s our guy.”
Alexi Casilla went 3 for 3 for the Twins, including an RBI single against Porcello in the fourth. Mauer had two hits, tying the game at 2 with a double in the fifth. Willingham singled him in to give the Twins the lead.
Porcello lasted six innings, allowing nine hits, three runs and three walks with only one strikeout. He hasn’t won in four starts, but this was a much better performance. He took a sharp drive by Mauer off his leg but managed to stay on his feet and throw for the out before hobbling around in pain in the third.
“That’s all I’m looking to come out there and do: Keep us in the game and try to pitch as deep as I can. In that way, it was a good outing,” Porcello said. “Obviously I’ve got to continue to work on putting it all together, but it’s a good win for us.”
Twins starter P.J. Walters gave up seven hits and four walks, both highs over four appearances since being brought up from Triple-A less than three weeks ago. But he finished six innings with only two first-inning runs allowed and struck out four.
After a ray-of-hope, four-game winning streak on the road that included a two-game sweep of the Tigers in Detroit, the Twins have lost five in a row.
“One of those losses that knocks the wind out of your sails,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
WCCO Radio Audio:
Ron Gardenhie Post-Game Press Conference
NOTES: Berry, who made his major league debut earlier this week when CF Austin Jackson strained an abdominal muscle, has at least one hit in each of his five games. He’s 8 for 21. … The Twins start a three-game series with Oakland on Monday in a holiday matinee. LH Scott Diamond (3-1, 1.78 ERA) takes the mound for the Twins, and LH Travis Blackley (0-0, 0.00) will make his first start of the season for the A’s. … The Tigers send RH Doug Fister (0-2, 1.84) to the mound on Monday in Boston. LH Felix Doubront (4-2, 3.96) starts for the Red Sox. … The Twins had two moving moments on the field before the game. Mauer hosted an 8-year-old boy named Grant with leukemia as part of the Make-A-Wish program, competing with him in the video game “MLB 11: The Show” with the action shown on the scoreboard above left field. Then Robert Buresh, a Minnesota Air National Guard master sergeant just returned from Afghanistan, surprised his daughters in front of home plate as they ran around the bases in a promotional contest.
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