Epic collapse: Twins beat Tigers with 7-run 9th

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — Brad Ausmus summed it up about as well as anyone could.

"That one stunk," he said, after an epic implosion in the ninth inning by the Tigers' bullpen spoiled a near-vintage performance by Justin Verlander.

Brian Dozier's one-out, three-run home run off Joakim Soria capped a seven-run ninth inning to send the Twins to an 8-6 win Friday. What were the odds?

BOX SCORE: Twins 8, Tigers 6

According to ESPN Stats, teams facing a deficit of five or more runs in the ninth inning were 0-1,057 the last two seasons.

"We can't pout about it," Ausmus said. "We have another game tomorrow and we need to come back. The goal every time you come into a city is to win the series … We'll get a good night sleep and come back tomorrow.

"Today does not affect tomorrow."

Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings and left with two outs in the eighth after allowing his only run of the game — on a two-strike single by Dozier. Bruce Rondon got the final out of the eighth, but that was the end of his highlights.

"He couldn't get ahead of guys," catcher Alex Avila said. "He was a little wild with his fastball, so we tried to mix in some off-speed pitches to get him back over the plate. And he left pitches up."

Rondon gave up a run on a double and two singles to start the ninth.

"It's a tough situation, but that's your job," Avila said of Rondon. "It's what you've got to do every day. You've got to come every day and make sure you are prepared. Some days you are going to do it and some you're not."

Soria, who was pitching his third straight game, came in with two on and one out.

The Tigers almost got a huge break when Eddie Rosario was initially called out trying to steal second. The call was overturned after video review.

Soria walked Aaron Hicks and hit Kurt Suzuki in a 1-2 count. Danny Santana slapped a two-run single to make it 6-5.

Dozier then hit a slider that hung over the heart of the plate into the seats in left.

"I fell behind in the count to a couple of hitters and every time you fall behind that's what the results are," Soria said. "Dozier, I tried to mix it up with the slider and it ended up in the middle and he hit it out of the ballpark.

"I feel bad because Verlander pitched a nice game and I blew it. But that's part of baseball. Sometimes the ball goes like that."

It was the third blown save and second walk-off home run allowed by Soria this season.

"We don't give up," former Tiger Torii Hunter said. "We keep fighting, we keep playing. Good pitching beats good hitting any day and when you have Verlander in there, he was pitching well.

"Somebody else came in and it was just like, 'OK, Verlander's out, so let's try to do something.' I think we smelled blood, tasted it a little bit, and we locked on."

Instead of pulling within a half-game of second place, the Tigers now trail the Twins by 2.5 games.

"It's not debilitating," Avila said. "We have played a lot games and we have had losses as bad as this. We will come back tomorrow like this never happened."

The Tigers offense did all of its damage early against Twins starter Ervin Santana.

A two-run home run by Victor Martinez got the ball rolling in the third.

Then in the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes, with two on, hit a 417-foot missile into the Tigers bullpen in center field. Ian Krol made a nice catch on it with his hat.

One batter later, J.D. Martinez reached out and hit Sanata's slider 398 feet into the stands in right-center. It was his 25th home run — tying him with Hank Greenberg for third most by a Tiger before the All-Star break.

But all that seems like a distant memory.

"This was a tough one," said Verlander, who allowed five hits and struck out six. "It's the game of baseball and this happens sometimes. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. You've got to focus on the positives. We've been playing good baseball. It just didn't happen for us tonight.

"Obviously, this was in a little tougher fashion than a normal loss. But, turn the page."

Twitter @cmccosky