Wake-up call: Twins' bats rise, beat Tigers

Wake-up call: Twins' bats rise, beat Tigers

Wake-up call: Twins' bats rise, beat Tigers
DETROIT -- It's no secret the Twins have been offensively challenged this year. Fresh off being shut out for the fourth time in May, they entered Wednesday's game with the fewest runs scored in the American League. But they showed no sign of that poor offense against the Tigers.

The Twins erupted for a season-high 11 runs and belted 14 hits -- tied for their second-highest total of the year -- on their way to a 11-7 victory over the Tigers in front of a crowd of 33,955 fans at Comerica Park.

"It was a big win for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of fun on the bench. Guys were hooting and hollering. We had some big hits. ... Big smiles on our faces. It was a fun win for us."

And perhaps the best part was the team's ability to get the bats going early. After tallying only six hits and no runs against Indians sinkerballer Derek Lowe on Tuesday, they jumped all over Tigers sinkerballer Rick Porcello on Wednesday.

Porcello didn't have much help from his defense, which committed four errors, but the Twins pegged the 23-year-old right-hander for five runs (one earned) in the first two innings.

Shortstop Brian Dozier reached on a dropped ball by Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder, and back-to-back doubles by Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham made it 2-0 in the top of the first.

The Tigers got a run back off Twins starter Nick Blackburn, but Dozier came to the plate again in the second with two runners on and two outs and crushed a three-run home run to give Minnesota a four-run lead.

"I think not being able to throw an effective slider kind of took me out of my game against Dozier a little bit," Porcello said. "I just wasn't able to set him up the way I wanted to."

But Blackburn, who entered Wednesday's contest 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in eight career games and seven starts at Comerica Park, gave it all back -- and more. He surrendered a walk, five straight singles and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second to make it 6-5 in favor of Detroit. He lasted only two innings, allowing six runs on six hits and threw 53 pitches.

"They weren't crushing balls," Blackburn said. "I was still making fairly quality pitches. They were just able to shoot them through or do whatever they had to do. That's a good lineup over there."

The 30-year-old right-hander blamed a lot of it on recurring tightness in his thigh. Blackburn said during his last outing in Toronto he felt a sharp pain in his left quad and felt it again warming up Wednesday.

"It's something that I felt last outing," Blackburn said. "It was better throughout the week. The first couple days after my last start, it was pretty stiff, pretty tight. But it kind of continued to go away. And then today it showed on the field. I hadn't felt anything and then halfway through warmups I started feeling it again.

"I sit there and I tell myself, 'Do whatever it takes. If you rip your quad in half, do whatever it takes. Just go until you can't.' ... To me, it feels like I'm physically incapable of doing it and it's hard to fight through that."

After the bullpen combined for four innings of relief Tuesday, when starter Jason Marquis lasted five innings, Gardenhire needed to rely on them for another seven innings Wednesday.

However, the relief corps took on the challenge and completed it almost flawlessly. Including one run charged to Jeff Gray, the bullpen pitched seven innings of five-hit, two-walk, one-run ball.

"We came in there and everybody threw well," said Jared Burton, who struck out Ryan Raburn in the eighth to preserve a two-run lead with Tigers on second and third. "We gave up one run in seven innings and we kept us in the game. "

The one run came on an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera, who broke a 6-6 tie in the fifth inning and gave Detroit a one-run lead. But the Twins responded with two more runs of their own in the sixth.

Catcher Ryan Doumit singled, Alexi Casilla walked and No. 9-hitter Jamey Carroll doubled to put the score 8-7. Casilla hit an RBI single the next inning to pad the lead.

And although the bullpen didn't show any signs of needing a larger lead, Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth for added insurance.

"We knocked them in and we kept adding on," Gardenhire said. "That's what tonight's all about. The chances that we missed -- and we talked about it over and over again missing those opportunities -- and tonight we knocked them in."

Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.