Twins play spoiler, take opener from Tigers

Twins play spoiler, take opener from Tigers

Twins play spoiler, take opener from Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have little left to play for this season other than being spoilers. But they wore the spoiler hat well on Friday night.

Thanks to a big night from Ryan Doumit and an impressive 7 1/3 innings from Scott Diamond, Minnesota did a favor for American League Central-rival Chicago with a 4-2 win over Detroit at Target Field.

The Twins may prove to be the bane of the Tigers' playoff hopes, as Friday's win improved their record to 8-8 against Detroit this season, including three straight wins. Minnesota took both games of a doubleheader in Detroit on Sunday.

Chicago's 3-1 win over Tampa Bay reduced Detroit's division lead to one game.

"These games mean something," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately for us, watching the scoreboard won't help us. But we can go out there and be a part of one with the other team. You're looking out there and seeing the [White Sox] are winning. And we're in one of those twister games. So it is fun. Guys are into it and really pumped up."

Doumit tied a career high by driving in all four of Minnesota's runs -- two on a seventh-inning homer and the go-ahead runs on an eighth-inning double.

Denard Span started the decisive rally in the eighth with a leadoff walk, then advanced to second on Ben Revere's sacrifice bunt. Detroit elected to intentionally walk Joe Mauer to get to Justin Morneau, but Brayan Villarreal fell into a 3-0 count. Span stole third on Villarreal's 3-0 pitch for a strike, but Morneau walked on the next pitch to load the bases for Doumit.

Doumit responded by ripping Villarreal's first-pitch fastball through the middle and beyond the reach of Omar Infante, sending home Span and Mauer. The hit brought Doumit's RBI total to 71, surpassing his previous personal best of 69, which he recorded for Pittsburgh in 2008.

"He had walked Morneau on five pitches, so he had trouble finding the strike zone, and I figured he was trying to get ahead," Doumit said. "I was up there aggressive, I was over there looking for a fastball over the plate, and I got it."

Diamond allowed one earned run on six hits and no walks. He has allowed just three earned runs over 14 1/3 innings in his last two starts -- both against Detroit -- after going 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA in the previous five outings.

"Tonight our mentality going into it was just [to] keep that same mentality we had in Detroit, just attack and work the outside half and mix up speeds," Diamond said. "When we saw them making the adjustment, that's when we started to shift ours. We just tried to keep it as simple as possible and stick with what worked."

Between his games for the Twins and Triple-A Rochester, the left-hander has gone over the 200-inning mark for the season. He has a 3.80 ERA in five career starts against the Tigers.

"He's a good-looking pitcher," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He can throw something else besides a fastball behind in the count. He can use both sides of the plate, changes speeds a little bit, stays right around 90. He's been impressive. He really has. He's pitched very well."

Trevor Plouffe's error at third in the eighth -- which allowed Austin Jackson to reach base -- proved costly. Infante followed with a two-run homer to tie the score at 2.

Doumit gave Minnesota a two-run lead in the seventh with a two-run broken-bat homer off Phil Coke. His 16th homer of the year brought in Morneau, who reached on a Prince Fielder error.

Both teams were hitless until Eduardo Escobar hit a single through the middle to lead off the third after fouling off five straight pitches from Drew Smyly. Span followed Pedro Florimon's flyout with another single, but Revere grounded out and Mauer struck out to end the inning without any scoring.

Escobar left the game after the seventh inning after taking a pitch off his left elbow. X-rays were negative, and he will undergo more tests on Saturday. He finished his at-bat but was replaced by Alexi Casilla at second base to start the eighth.

Diamond didn't allow a hit until Miguel Cabrera's two-out single in the fourth. He wasn't hit particularly well until the sixth. Cabrera and Fielder connected for back-to-back two-out singles. Delmon Young came up with a third straight single, sending Cabrera toward home plate. But Revere's throw from right field reached Mauer in plenty of time to cut down Cabrera and end the inning, though the two sluggers acknowledged each other with a mutual show of respect before heading to their respective dugouts.

Revere's outfield assist was his team-best eighth of the season and one of a few nice defensive plays that supported Diamond.

"With the way our defense was working tonight, it makes it a lot easier for me," Diamond said. "That's for sure."

Cabrera, who entered the night with an AL-leading .326 batting average, went 2-for-4 to raise that number to .327. Mauer went in second in the AL, at .323, but his 0-for-2 night with two walks saw his average dip to .322.

Though the Twins would rather be involved in the playoff race in a different capacity, Gardenhire is hoping this taste of the experience can help motivate his players next season.

"I think this will make them hungry and want to get back into this stuff," Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, we'll be a better ballclub next year and be a part of that."

Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.