MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It looked like a sure triple play. A double play, at least. In the end, the Detroit Tigers got just one out from it, and the Minnesota Twins made them pay.
Johnny Field homered twice, Jorge Polanco hit a bases-loaded triple and the Twins beat the Tigers 11-4 on Wednesday night.
The game turned on an odd play in the fifth inning with the Twins leading 6-4.
With Robbie Grossman on second and Tyler Austin on first and nobody out, Twins manager Paul Molitor called for a hit-and-run.
Willians Astudillo followed with a line drive right at second baseman Dawel Lugo, who threw to second to — it appeared — easily double off Grossman. Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez’s relay to first base seemed to beat Austin, but was in the dirt and Niko Goodrum couldn’t make the scoop.
That’s when it got interesting.
The Twins claimed Rodriguez was not touching second base when he took Lugo’s throw and a replay reversed the call, putting Grossman back on second.
“I was closing my eyes hoping not to see a triple play, and I missed the play,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A couple guys in the dugout said we want to check it . so our guys were on top of it and they picked it up right away.”
Rodriguez was charged with the error, and it was a costly one. The Twins went on to score five runs in the inning, all with two outs. Chris Gimenez hit a two-run single, and after Joe Mauer walked to fill the bases, Polanco cleared them with a triple to the gap in left-center.
“We had a triple play that turned into a five-run inning,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s not good.”
Austin also homered and Astudillo had three hits for the Twins.
Christin Stewart tripled and drove in two runs for the Tigers.
Tyler Duffey (2-2) earned the win with two scoreless innings in relief of starter Jake Odorizzi. Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (9-13) gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Field gave the Twins a 6-4 lead with his second home run of the game. The ball was originally ruled in play, but a video review showed that it barely cleared the fence before bouncing back onto the field.
There was no such doubt on Field’s first home run. He led off the second by hitting Boyd’s first pitch off the facing of the second deck in left, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead.
Austin’s two-run drive followed Robbie Grossman’s RBI single in the first inning. It was Austin’s 17th homer of the season and ninth since the Twins acquired him from the Yankees in a July 30 trade.
The Tigers got RBI singles from Niko Goodrum and James McCann in the third inning, and Stewart tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
MORE FRUSTRATION FOR ODORIZZI
The Twins acquired Odorizzi in a February trade with the Rays, hoping that he’d stabilize the starting rotation and be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter. And he was durable, making 33 starts on the season. But he would agree that too many of them were like his outing on Wednesday.
“Truth be told, I’ll probably forget about 2018 tomorrow,” said Odorizzi, who gave up four earned runs on six hits and five walks in just three innings. “I’m going to focus on next year, improving and getting back to the pitcher I am and that this team deserves.”
Odorizzi finishes 2018 with a 7-10 record and a career-worst 4.49 ERA. The five free passes he issued on Wednesday also pushed his walk rate to 3.8 per nine innings, tying his highest total in his five major league seasons.
“Take the good from this season,” Odorizzi said. “I made all my starts. I remained healthy. It was by no means a year that I’m proud of, but a year that I learned a lot from. So if I can make the adjustments next year and stay healthy, I’m in for a lot better and will show the fans a lot better too.”
The victory gave Molitor his 300th career managerial victory in his fourth season with the Twins.
“It snuck up on me a little bit,” said Molitor, whose career record stands at 300-343. “I guess baseball likes round numbers. I’d rather get to 300 wins before you’ve already seen 300 losses, but that hasn’t been the case.”
Twins: Mitch Garver returned to action for the first time in two weeks, pinch-hitting in the eighth inning and playing first base in the ninth. He’d been out since Sept. 12, when he suffered a concussion after taking a foul tip off his mask while catching.
Tigers: LHP Francisco Liriano (5-11, 4.40) will pitch for Detroit on Thursday night in the series finale. Liriano lost consecutive starts against the Twins in August, giving up seven earned runs and walking seven in 6 2/3 innings.
Twins: LHP Gabriel Moya (3-1, 4.72) will serve as the “opener” for the Twins on Thursday. LHP Stephen Gonsalves is among the likely candidates to pitch in relief of Moya.
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