Miggy's blast, Romine's catch helps Tigers gain in WC chase
By Jason Beck and Rhett Bollinger
DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera provided the latest addition to the Tigers' late-inning rallies with a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning shortly after Andrew Romine made a spectacular catch en route to a 9-6 win over the Twins on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
The win moved Detroit one game back of Toronto for an American League Wild Card spot. The Tigers remained six games behind the AL Central-leading Indians.
On a night when the teams combined for nine fourth-inning runs, with neither starter Tyler Duffey nor Anibal Sanchez recording an out in the fifth, Cabrera's 33rd home run was the deciding tally -- barely. His line drive off Ryan Pressly tested the depths of left-center field at Comerica Park, hitting off the top of the fence and bouncing over.
"It was a tough loss last night, so we had to come back and win the game today," Cabrera said. "We did it. Hopefully we can bring the same energy tomorrow and win again."
Until then, second basemen Ian Kinsler and Brian Dozier had either scored or driven in half of the total runs. Kinsler and Cameron Maybin hit back-to-back doubles off Duffey in the first inning to build an early lead, then belted consecutive triples in the Tigers' fourth following the Twins' five-run top of the fourth inning. Kinsler fell a home run shy of the cycle, but singled home an insurance run in the eighth.
"They're a team full of veteran hitters," said Duffey, who gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings. "When you miss, they don't. It's really frustrating, especially with our offense scoring runs the last two days."
Sanchez logged three perfect innings until Dozier belted the first pitch of the fourth for his 41st home run. Minnesota's next three hitters reached base and scored, three on a Kurt Suzuki home run. Alex Wilson, Shane Greene and Bruce Rondon combined to retire 10 in a row to give Detroit a chance to pull ahead for good. Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth for his 42nd save.
"It does put pressure on your bullpen," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We're just taking it day to day, trying to win games. The relievers will tell you themselves, 'We have to suck it up sometimes.'"
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Romine goes over the shoulder: Normally, it's shortstop Jose Iglesias who provides highlight over-the-shoulder catches in the Tigers' infield. But when Eduardo Escobar looped a ball down the left-field line, Romine, the third baseman, took off at full speed and still managed to keep an eye on the ball with his back to the infield, catching the ball with an outstretched glove for the second out of the sixth.
Triple, doubled: The Tigers hadn't hit a triple since Aug. 6 until Kinsler and Maybin hit back-to-back RBI three-baggers in the fourth. Kinsler's line drive to right-center field easily cleared Byron Buxton's diving attempt and rolled to the wall to score Romine. Two pitches later, Maybin drove one to the fence in left-center to score Kinsler and tie the game.
"It was good to see the bats come alive on a night when we needed it," Ausmus said.
Dozier does it again: Dozier trails Baltimore's Mark Trumbo by one homer for the Major League lead. Dozer's homer had an exit velocity of 104 mph and traveled a Statcast-projected 401 feet. Dozier also tied the game with an RBI double in the fifth, and it was actually hit harder than his homer, leaving the bat at 105 mph. It was his 81st extra-base hit, which is three shy of the Twins record of 84 by Tony Oliva in 1964.
"My routine is when I face a pitcher, I watch what he did to me last time and then watch what he did to me his previous start," Dozier said. "In my second at-bat, he did the same thing to me. In my first at-bat, he threw me a couple heaters, but then second at-bat, he threw me the get-me-over [curve]. So I kind of sat on it. If he threw me a fastball, I was going to sit on it."
Suzuki smash: Suzuki capped a five-run fourth with a three-run homer to left off Sanchez. It was Suzuki's eighth of the year, which is the most he's hit since 2011. The homer came on an 0-1 slider from Sanchez that caught too much of the plate. Suzuki's homer left the bat at 103 mph and traveled a projected 367 feet, per Statcast™.
"We were able to put together a big inning," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We put together some good at-bats with [Jorge] Polanco and Kurt. Kurt got an offspeed pitch. We had a lead, but when you start off the next inning with a walk, it's not a very good way to hold it."
"This is fun. It doesn't matter what people say, like 'We're not going to make it, we're not going to do this.' We hear a lot of bad things, but we've always got to stay positive. Let other people say the negative things, but we have to stay positive. It doesn't matter if we lose or win. We have a chance, and we have to believe." -- Cabrera
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Dozier has 39 homers as a second baseman this season, as he hit two as a designated hitter. The 39 homers match Alfonso Soriano's AL record. The Major League record for homers as a second baseman is 42 -- Davey Johnson (1973) and Rogers Hornsby (1922).
The Tigers have gone 17 games without a starting pitcher earning a victory since Aug. 26, when Justin Verlander beat the Angels at Comerica Park. Detroit is 9-8 since then, with three wins going to Greene.
Suzuki took a foul ball off his facemask with Cabrera at the plate in the eighth, and had to leave the game with a chin laceration. Suzuki previously cut his chin on July 23, receiving eight stitches. The impact of the foul ball caused Suzuki's cut to reopen. John Ryan Murphy entered behind the plate. More >
"He opened that thing up again, but I don't think it's as bad as the first one," Molitor said. "We'll just have to see how we want to proceed. He's frustrated. That's for sure. I have options at catcher so I'm not going to force him back in there. He's going to have pad it up and we'll see how much risk we want to take to put him back out there like we did the first time."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Left-hander Hector Santiago (11-8, 4.75 ERA) is scheduled to start the series finale on Thursday at 12:10 p.m. CT. After posting a 10.89 ERA through his first four starts with the Twins, Santiago has turned it around his last three outings -- three straight quality starts with a 1.86 ERA.
Tigers: Former Twin Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 4.76) returns to the rotation for a spot start, his first since July 31, as the Tigers wrap up a six-game homestand on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. ET. It'll be Pelfrey's first outing since he went on the disabled list at the beginning of August with back issues.