"I just did what I could to eat some innings and save the bullpen a bit," Dean said. "I know that's my job as the long guy. I was able to do that and keep us in the game for a little bit."
After starter Jose Berrios allowed seven earned runs in two-thirds of an inning, Dean entered with the score 6-0 and allowed three straight hits, but he recorded the final out and moved forward from there with the Twins down by eight.
Minnesota chipped away at the lead and tied the score in the top of the seventh inning, and what was an appearance to eat some innings had suddenly become a possible win situation for the 26-year-old Dean in just his second Major League appearance.
• Twins motivated by comeback effort in Detroit
"I told him in the third or fourth inning, I said, 'Get us in there, we're going to get you your first big league win,'" third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "We tied it up and he kept going back out there. Pitched excellent. That's something we needed. Short start, a guy eats up innings like he did, that helps us tomorrow and the next day."
But Detroit's Nick Castellanos led off the seventh with a home run off Dean on an inside fastball with two strikes. Justin Upton followed with a single, and Dean's night was done.
"He got out of some tough jams, and I knew I was extending him by taking a chance there," manager Paul Molitor said. "It was a combination of the fact that the first two hitters in the inning haven't had great starts off left-handed pitching. I was just trying to ride. We've beaten up [the bullpen] enough where if I could get two outs to start the inning and get [Ryan Pressly] in to finish, that was the goal. It didn't work out.
"He made a mistake with two strikes. It's dangerous to go in, a small margin of error with a lot of guys on that team. He tried to come in, left it over, and he hit it out."
The 91 pitches were the most for a Twins reliever since Liam Hendriks threw 99 on Sept. 27, 2013, against the Indians.
Although Dean took the first loss of his short Major League career, it was a positive performance he hopes to build on, and the Twins hope to gain momentum from their stirring comeback.
"It was amazing having the guys come back like that," Dean said. "They put some great at-bats together and scored some runs. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to keep it in the end."