It’s been a cursed life for the road team in what essentially will be a seven-game series between the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.
Last week, Minnesota swept Detroit in a four-game series in Minneapolis, relying on late rallies against Detroit’s bullpen.
On Saturday in the first action for both teams since the All-Star break, the Tigers answered in their ballpark by sweeping a doubleheader in the first two contests of what’s become a three-game series between the teams in Detroit after rain postponed a doubleheader Friday (one game will be made up on Aug. 30).
Now, the Tigers will try to answer Minnesota’s four-game sweep with a three-game sweep when the teams meet on Sunday.
“It’s obviously a great home-field advantage and great energy when we play here,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Our players were all talking about it. It’s a step in the right direction for the entire organization to have this environment and then deliver while the people are here and happy.”
Following in the mold of Minnesota’s wins last week, Detroit’s wins on Saturday were anything but conventional, starting with a 1-0 triumph in the first game.
It marked the first time in franchise history that the Tigers homered in their first at-bat and ended up winning 1-0, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Robbie Grossman hit the decisive home run.
Detroit’s bullpen that imploded in Minnesota then pitched four hitless innings after Tigers starter Jose Urena had to leave the game with groin tightness after the third inning.
Then came the nightcap, when the Tigers won 5-4 with two outs in the eighth on a walk-off bloop single by Miguel Cabrera that scored Jonathan Schoop from first base.
With Schoop on first following a game-tying single, Cabrera hit a high popup to shallow center that dropped between Minnesota shortstop Andrelton Simmons and center fielder Nick Gordon, who seemed to look at each other and slowed down in confusion as the ball dropped between them.
Running all the way with two outs, Schoop beat a relay that never even made it to home plate.
“That’s a hard way to lose a ballgame,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “A game we played pretty hard in. On that particular play, we are playing at dusk right now. Everyone knows that’s a tough time to be in the field and go get certain kinds of certain fly balls. Obviously Nick lost that one in the sky.”
Hoping to rebound and salvage one game, Minnesota will start veteran left-hander J.A. Happ, who has struggled this season.
Happ enters 5-4 with a 5.90 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 82 1/3 innings for the Twins, although he was effective in his last start against the Tigers on July 8.
Happ struck out eight and allowed three runs in seven innings in what turned out to be a 5-3 Minnesota win. In 14 career games – 13 starts – against the Tigers, Happ is 4-2 with a 4.86 ERA.
The Tigers will counter with right-hander Willy Peralta (2-1, 2.08), who of late has been Detroit’s most reliable pitcher.
In his last three starts, Peralta has allowed just one earned run in 17 innings. He is 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA in 18 career games – four starts – against the Twins.
–Field Level Media