But the Twins shocked the Tigers by scoring once in the seventh, and three more times in the eighth for a 4-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park. It gave the Twins the series win over the first-place Tigers, and a respectable 3-4 record on the road trip, considering the circumstances.
"It was a good comeback and a good win for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I've said all along, we're never out of it. We may look out of it, but I always feel like we have something in us. And watching them today, those boys were getting after it pretty good with some big hits."
With the Twins trailing by two runs in the eighth and reliever Joba Chamberlain on the mound, Brian Dozier was hit by a pitch and Mauer walked to ignite the rally. Trevor Plouffe and Chris Colabello both struck out, but Josmil Pinto delivered a single to left field that was misplayed by Rajai Davis to allow both Dozier and Mauer to score to tie the game.
"I tried to have a good at-bat, because I'd never seen the pitcher," Pinto said. "I took a couple pitches, but then hit one well. He threw me a couple sliders behind [in] the count. And so he threw me another one, and I just let it fly."
Eduardo Nunez followed with what turned out to be the game-winning single to center field to give the Twins a one-run lead they wouldn't relinquish, with the Tigers unable to cash in Miguel Cabrera, who was stranded at third in the eighth inning. Casey Fien picked up two outs that inning before exiting upon being hit in his right arm by a comebacker from Victor Martinez. He was diagnosed with a right arm contusion, but said after the game that he was fine. He isn't expected to miss any time.
Glen Perkins came in and picked up his first four-out save of the year and his 10th save of the season. It was the third career four-out save for Perkins, who hadn't done it since July 22, 2013.
"You don't get the same adrenaline rush when you come out for the ninth, but I knew it was a game we needed to win when we came back like that," Perkins said. "I'm glad they put me out there."
It came after right-hander Samuel Deduno went six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts, but he was saddled with a no-decision.
"I'm pretty happy because the team won and we won the series," Deduno said, "but I'm also happy I was able to get to the sixth inning."
The Tigers scored early against Deduno, as he gave up a double to Ian Kinsler to open the first inning, before Kinsler eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from Cabrera.
Deduno settled down after the first, but ran into trouble again in the fourth inning, when he gave up a one-out RBI single to Austin Jackson before loading the bases by hitting Alex Avila with a pitch.
Deduno then induced what appeared to be a routine double-play ball hit to shortstop by Andrew Romine to get out of the inning. But the ball hit Jackson as he tried to advance to third base, and the play was ruled dead. Jackson was ruled out and the bases remained loaded. Romine was credited with a single.
Gardenhire was ejected by third-base umpire Joe West for arguing a double play should've been the correct ruling, but Deduno was able to get out of the jam by getting Davis to ground out.
The Tigers added another run against Deduno in the fifth, when Kinsler connected on a solo blast to left-center field. It was the first homer given up by Deduno this season.
Tigers rookie Robbie Ray, meanwhile, was solid in just his second career start, as he scattered four hits and a walk over six scoreless innings.
"Robbie pitched well," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Clearly pitched well enough to win the game, it just didn't work out today."
Minnesota didn't score until the seventh, with Danny Santana delivering a pinch-hit single with two outs to score Pinto, who ran through third-base coach Joe Vavra's stop sign.
"When I reached third base, I saw his hands [up], but then I turned and saw Torii [Hunter] throw it into second base, so I just kept going," Pinto said with a smile. "It was good."
The run proved key. The rally led to an impressive victory for the Twins, who were able to weather the storm during the road trip and now head home for a six-game homestand against the Red Sox and Mariners.
"It was unfortunate the way things went for us with guys being out, but we went out and battled and did all we could do," Perkins said. "We kind of caught our bearings when we got to Detroit and played a good series. This was a big road trip for us, and we definitely didn't do great in Cleveland, losing three out of four, but we played well here, and hopefully we can have a good homestand now."