MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After a stirring comeback the night before, the Minnesota Twins brought the good feelings and big swings back for another victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Torii Hunter’s towering two-run homer into the third deck against his former team highlighted a 16-hit afternoon for the Twins in a 9-5 win over the Tigers on Saturday.
“You’ve got to have kids in college to do that,” Hunter said, as his son and Notre Dame wide receiver, Torii Hunter Jr., sat next to him in the clubhouse.
Trevor Plouffe and Eddie Rosario each had three hits and scored twice, and the bottom five batters in Minnesota’s lineup combined for six RBIs and 11 hits in 19 at-bats. Aaron Hicks hit a two-run triple in the third inning that finished another rough start for Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said before the game he felt a buzz at the ballpark, after Brian Dozier’s game-ending home run on Friday against Joakim Soria capped a seven-run ninth inning in an 8-6 victory. The Twins dropped eight of their first 10 games this season against the Tigers before the stirring comeback.
“When you’re really trying to beat a team that’s kind of had your number and the losses keep mounting, it just seems like the pressure builds a little bit and I think that was alleviated a little bit by what we did last night,” Molitor said.
Phil Hughes (8-6) gave up a home run to Victor Martinez and a two-run single to James McCann in the fourth, but he took a 7-0 lead into that inning. Yoenis Cespedes drove in another run with a double in the fifth, the last inning for Hughes. But he improved to 4-0 in his last six starts, despite allowing eight hits.
The Twins moved within 4 1/2 games of AL Central-leading Kansas City. The Tigers stayed eight games back.
“We could’ve very easily come out flat or whatever and felt like we wasted it all last night, but, no, we were right back at it,” Dozier said. “It’s a good thing with this team, man. Every time we step on the field we’re ready to win the ballgame. Real gritty and right from the get-go.”
Simon (8-6) only recorded seven outs, and two came on the bases when the Twins tried to advance. Kurt Suzuki and Danny Santana each drove in two runs, and rookie Miguel Sano mixed an RBI double in with three strikeouts. All nine batters had at least one hit.
“When you get behind the count, they know you’re going to throw a fastball in the middle,” Simon said, “and that’s when you get hit.”
Simon allowed 10 hits and seven runs, five earned. He has been charged with a whopping 30 runs over his last five starts.
Hughes is tied with Kyle Kendrick of the Colorado Rockies for the most home runs allowed in the majors with 23, though 16 of the long balls Hughes has surrendered have been solo shots.
Hughes retired Martinez the next time on a called third strike that upset the veteran designated hitter enough to prompt an ejection by home plate umpire Marty Foster. Manager Brad Ausmus had to stand between Martinez and Foster during the ensuing argument.
“The Hunter home run took a little of the wind out of the sails. You feel like you’re chipping you’re way back in the game. You’ve got a few innings left,” Ausmus said.
Dozier was added to the AL All-Star team as a replacement for Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who will skip the game for treatment on his sore shoulder. Public address announcer Adam Abrams told the crowd before the fourth inning, and Dozier doffed his cap as a close-up of him at second base was shown on the scoreboard.
FELIZ IN THE FOLD
Neftali Feliz made his debut in the Tigers’ sputtering bullpen, a week after the Texas Rangers released their former closer and 2010 AL Rookie of the Year award winner. Feliz pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Ausmus said before the game his closer Soria is the only reliever whose status is set.
“We’d love to give guys roles, but we don’t really have any. No one’s really shown an aptitude,” Ausmus said.
Tigers: Since 1B Miguel Cabrera hurt his calf July 3 the Tigers are 4-4, but they’ve averaged 6.4 runs per game in his absence.
Twins: Dozier was hit by a pitch just above the left elbow, but he stayed in the game despite some pain and scored on Hunter’s homer in the sixth.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene will start the series finale Sunday, coming up from Triple-A Toledo and forcing a corresponding roster move.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson starts for Minnesota. He is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last three turns, with 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.
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