Twins unable to hold off Tigers after Hendriks' gem

Twins unable to hold off Tigers after Hendriks' gem

Twins unable to hold off Tigers after Hendriks' gem
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2012 campaign hasn't seen too many enjoyable results for Minnesota. But in their final home contest of a second straight 90-plus-loss season, the Twins looked as though they would treat their fans to victory.

Prince Fielder changed that outlook with one mighty swing of his bat.

Jared Burton gave up a two-run homer to Fielder in the eighth -- the only runs the Tigers needed for a 2-1 win over the Twins on Sunday in front of 32,554 at Target Field.

The loss means the Twins will finish with a 31-50 home record, as they played in front of 2,776,354 at Target Field this season, the fourth-largest attendance total in franchise history.

Pedro Florimon provided what appeared would be the decisive hit, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning of a well-pitched game from both teams. Trevor Plouffe started the rally with a leadoff single, and then Jamey Carroll entered as a pinch-runner. Alexi Casilla's sacrifice bunt moved Carroll over to second, and Carroll raced to home on Florimon's single to right on the first pitch from Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez.

But Minnesota's lead didn't last. Burton replaced starter Liam Hendriks and surrendered a single to Austin Jackson to start the eighth. He retired Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera before Fielder tagged his first-pitch fastball over the left-field fence for his 30th home run of the year.

Burton had allowed just four home runs in 61 innings of work this season, and Fielder's was the first against the right-hander since Dayan Viciedo took him deep on May 24.

"Burton's been so good for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He just got a pitch down the middle. I think he was trying to go with a fastball outside and actually yanked it to the middle and the guy did what he does. They got those big guys in the middle. You know if you make a mistake, they're going to hurt you. And that one ended up hurting us."

Fielder was 2-for-7 lifetime with two strikeouts against Burton before the blast.

"I don't think I've made contact off him the past three at-bats," Fielder said. "So I figured if it was something straight, I'd better swing."

Jackson made a leaping catch at the right-center field wall to take a would-be hit away form Denard Span to start the bottom of the ninth, and Florimon followed by lining out to Jackson on a well-hit ball. Detroit closer Jose Valverde induced a groundout from Joe Mauer to seal the game.

One of the best starts of Hendriks' season was wasted in the defeat. The right-hander was poised to pick up his second career win, pitching seven scoreless innings while allowing five hits and two walks.

"Just to go seven innings against that sort of lineup and not give up any runs is huge," Hendriks said. "The defense had some fantastic plays behind us. Unfortunately we weren't able to walk away with a win, but it's a good way to walk away from the season for me personally."

Both teams squandered scoring chances.

Minnesota put runners on the corners with one out in the sixth after Ben Revere's walk and Mauer's single, but came up empty handed.

Casilla stole second and third on back-to-back pitches to Florimon in the fifth after bunting for a one-out hit. He was left on third, though, after Florimon struck out and Span grounded out.

Hendriks only allowed one hit through the first four innings and didn't run into much trouble until putting runners on first and second with one out in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta. But he stranded the runners by striking out Alex Avila and inducing an inning-ending fly out from Omar Infante.

"We had some missed opportunities to score some runs or add on," Gardenhire said. "And then they came up with a big one."

Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-3 to lower his American League-leading batting average from .327 to .325. Mauer was 3-for-4 with three singles and a walk, improving his second-place average to .323.

Mauer's performance was his 23rd game this season with three-or-more hits -- the most in baseball.

"[Cabrera's] a great hitter. Joe's a great hitter," Gardenhire said. "We've got three left and they've got three left, so we'll see what it comes down to."

The Twins averaged 34,276 fans per game at Target Field this year, as they drew more than 2,000,000 total fans for the 14th time in club history. But Minnesota is just 64-98 at home over the last two seasons.

"The amazing thing about our fans, is they just keep coming out," Gardenhire said. " ... People are having a lot of fun at this ballpark, win lose or draw. We would rather be in the first part of that -- the win. We have to figure out a way to do a better job for them here at home.

"Our record at home is not acceptable. Overall, it's not acceptable. So we've got to find a way to make it better our fans deserve that."

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