DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are baseball’s new home-run kings, but that hasn’t been the reason they’ve won two of three games against the Detroit Tigers this weekend.
The Twins homered once in a 13-5 win on Friday, hit six in a 10-7 loss on Saturday to pass the 2018 New York Yankees’ record, then won 8-3 on Sunday without hitting a ball out of Comerica Park.
“We do find different ways to get it done, and I think our guys our happy to take whatever pitch comes and do their best with it,” Indians manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You aren’t always going to hit homers, but you can always have good at-bats and try to put something in play.”
The Twins have won five of six on their current 10-game road trip and increased their lead in the AL Central to 5 ½ games over the Cleveland Indians. Jake Cave and Nelson Cruz drove in two runs for the Twins.
The Tigers have lost seven of eight and still need four wins at Comerica Park to avoid becoming the first major-league team to lose 60 games at home.
Michael Pineda (11-5) got the win, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out nine.
“I know the Tigers are very, very aggressive, so my plan was to execute the first pitch, because I know they want to swing at it,” he said. “My fastball was really good and I got a lot of strikes with it.”
Twins reliever Brusdar Graterol pitched the ninth in his major-league debut.
“He throws 100 mph with great action on his pitches,” Baldelli said. “He got his first strikeout. That’s going to be the first of many.”
Spencer Turnbull (3-14) took the loss, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 inning. He is tied with Brad Keller and Aaron Sanchez for the major-league lead in losses.
“He’s just misfiring a lot right now,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He missed some time with his back and he’s still looking for his slider.”
The Twins took a 5-0 lead in the second. Jake Cave started the scoring with a two-run single before Turnbull hit Willians Astudillo. Jason Castro, Jorge Polanco and Cruz added RBI singles later in the inning.
Several of the hits were opposite-field grounders through areas left vacant by the shift, but Gardenhire didn’t blame the alignments.
“That looks bad for us, but we’re shifting with the idea that he’s going to put the ball in the right part of the plate,” he said. “When his stuff is going down the middle, they have great hitters who can take it the other way.”
Detroit got a run back in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Dawel Lugo and Brandon Dixon.
Astudillo ended Turnbull’s game with a two-out RBI single in the fifth, but Victor Reyes made it 6-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. Jordy Mercer’s solo homer off Sam Dyson pulled the Tigers within three runs in the seventh.
Cruz and Eddie Rosario added RBI singles in the eighth to give the Indians an 8-4 lead.
“You are always trying to focus on the next pitch when you are on the mound, but it is tough against that lineup,” Tigers reliever David McKay said. “You can’t help be aware of what they have done all year and especially against us.”
Twins: CF Max Kepler left the game with soreness in his left leg and is day-to-day. . The Twins activated Astudillo and Wade from the IL and placed RHP Kyle Gibson (ulcerative colitis) on the IL. . CF Byron Buxton returned to the lineup, playing the ninth inning on defense.
Tigers: CF JaCoby Jones (wrist) was moved to the 60-day IL to make room for RHP Bryan Garcia on the 40-man roster. Garcia was selected from Triple-A Toledo as the Tigers expanded their roster.
TWINS DOMINATE TIGERS, BUT NOT QUITE ENOUGH
Minnesota is 10-5 against the Tigers this season, outscoring them 100-70, but that’s cost them ground in the AL Central race. The Indians are 15-1 against Detroit in 2019, including 14 wins in a row.
HAPPY FOR AN OLD FRIEND
The post-game buzz in the Tigers clubhouse wasn’t about their loss to the Twins, but Justin Verlander’s no-hitter for the Astros in Toronto. Verlander, of course, threw his first two no-hitters during a spectacular 13-year career in Detroit.
“I’m really happy for him, but I can’t say I’m surprised,” said Tigers starter Matthew Boyd, a protégé of Verlander’s before he was traded to Houston. “He came up all those years ago with all the talent in the world, but he’s never believed he had a ceiling. He still works hard every day to get better.”
Gardenhire was just happy Verlander hasn’t gotten him yet.
“He never no-hit us in Minnesota, but he came really close a few times,” he said. “I’m glad he got his third, especially since it wasn’t against us.”
The teams finish their four-game series on Monday afternoon, with the Twins starting Jake Odorizzi (14-6, 3.55) against Jordan Zimmermann (1-9, 6.24).