FINAL: TIGERS 7, TWINS 2
After the way tonight's game panned out, the Tigers front office should send a cookie bouquet to Twins manager Paul Molitor.
The home team couldn't do anything against Minnesota starter Phil Hughes, registering just two hits through the first six innings before a Miguel Cabrera triple led to their first run of the game in the seventh inning. At just 75 pitches, Hughes was removed from the game by Molitor, and the Tigers made him pay for that move, going off for seven runs in the inning. Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez capped the big frame with back-to-back home runs.
In the ninth, Justin Wilson got the call for the Tigers and he answered the bell, striking out Eddie Rosario and Juan Centeno before getting Danny Santana to ground out to end the game.
Starter Mike Pelfrey was decent tonight, getting out of early jams before giving up a pair of runs in the sixth. Kyle Ryan came in and stranded two runners to get out of the frame.
Pelfrey allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out three in giving up those two earned runs.
Bottom 8th: Tigers 7, Twins 2
After two lengthy half innings preceded it, the bottom of the eight was a quick and tidy affair as the Tigers went down in order and will take their 7-2 lead into the ninth.
Nick Castellanos grounded out, Justin Upton did the same and Cameron Maybin followed suit.
Top 8th: Tigers 7, Twins 2
Mark Lowe got the call in the eighth inning and promptly issued walks to Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano just to make things interesting. Lowe bounced back by striking Byung Ho Park before getting Trevor Plouffe to ground into a fielder's choice. Brian Dozier flew out to center field to end the inning.
Lowe certainly made things hard on himself, but it was nice to see him dial it in after issuing two walks to start the inning.
Bottom 7th: Tigers 7, Twins 2
Paul Molitor took starter Phil Hughes out of the game after giving up a run to start the seventh inning despite giving up just three hits on the night and throwing 75 pitches.
He regrets that decision after the Tigers put up seven in the frame and are now in firm control of this game.
It all started when Miguel Cabrera hit a moonshot to right center field and cruised into third base with a standup triple. Yes, you read that right. One batter later, Victor Martinez flew out to center field to score Cabrera and get the Tigers on the board.
That's when Hughes was pulled.
Michael Tonkin got the call from the bullpen and Nick Castellanos greeted him with a bloop single to right field. Justin Upton got off the snide with a ground-rule double to left center that he hammered. It would have scored Castellanos had it not bounced over the wall. No matter, Cameron Maybin brought Castellanos home with a single to left field to make it 2-2. Maybin proceeded to steal second base, putting two men in scoring position for James McCann. The Tigers' catcher couldn't get it done, striking out for the second out of the inning. Luckily for the home team, Jose Iglesias did get it done off of new reliever Trevor May, singling to left field to bring home both runners and give the Tigers a 4-2 lead.
It didn't stop there.
Ian Kinsler took May deep for a two-run shot to make it 6-2. J.D. Martinez immediately followed with a solo shot of his own that made it 7-2 as the Tigers just poured it on the poor Twins bullpen.
The hit parade continued with Cabrera notching his second base knock of the inning, a single to right center, forcing Molitor to make his way back out to the mound for the third pitching change of the frame. Brandon Kintzler gave up a hard-hit ball to Victor, but it was snagged by Trevor Plouffe to end the inning.
Top 7th: Twins 2, Tigers 0
Kyle Ryan came on to get the Tigers out of a jam in the sixth inning and he did just that. He came back out for the seventh and set the Twins down in order to keep this game in reach for his team.
Juan Centeno grounded out, Danny Santana flew out to right field and Joe Mauer struck out swinging.
Bottom 6th: Twins 2, Tigers 0
Jose Iglesias tried to bunt his way on to no avail, Ian Kinsler flew out to center field and J.D. Martinez did the same as the Tigers continue to search for answers in solving the puzzle that is Phil Hughes.
The Minnesota starter has now set down 13 Tigers in a row while giving up just two hits and walking none through six innings (70 pitches).
Top 6th: Twins 2, Tigers 0
Miguel Sano flexed some muscle in leading off the sixth inning, driving a ball high above the right center field wall for Minnesota's second home run in as many innings to make it 2-0.
Mike Pelfrey bounced back to strike out Byung Ho Park before giving up hard-hit singles to Trevor Plouffe and Brian Dozier. Pelfrey was shown the door by Gene Lamont after that in favor of Kyle Ryan, who got out the inning by inducing a double play off the bat of Eddie Rosario.
Bottom 5th: Twins 1, Tigers 0
Justin Upton can't buy a hit these days. The Tigers' left fielder powered one to center field before Danny Santana made a leaping grab to rob him of a surefire triple. Cameron Maybin flew out to right field and James McCann grounded out to end the inning.
Phil Hughes has given up just two hits through five innings of work. He's retired 10 straight and his pitch count is in stellar position at 61.
Top 5th: Twins 1, Tigers 0
Joe Mauer turned on a pitch on the inside part of the plate and the ball made that sweet sound as it came off the bat for a no-doubter home run to right field to put Minnesota on top, 1-0.
The Tigers and Twins were cruising along in tonight's game as Pelfrey looked poise for a second consecutive 1-2-3 inning before Mauer went deep with two outs.
Juan Centeno flew out to center field and Danny Santana grounded out to second base to start the inning.
Bottom 4th: Tigers 0, Twins 0
Phil Hughes has settled into this one and the Tigers are going to need a few more solid innings from Mike Pelfrey if they are going to come out on top tonight.
Miguel Cabrera grounded out to third, Victor Martinez did the same and Nick Castellanos followed suit to end the inning.
Hughes has thrown just 52 pitches through the first four innings. He looks like he's going to be around for a while tonight.
Top 4th: Tigers 0, Twins 0
The fourth inning didn't provide the drama of the third for Mike Pelfrey, but that's a good thing for the Tigers as their starter set the Twins down in order.
Trevor Plouffe grounded out, Brian Dozier popped out and Eddie Rosario flew out to left to end the inning.
Bottom 3rd: Tigers 0, Twins 0
The Tigers went down in order in the bottom of the third as Phil Hughes appears to be settling into a groove early on.
Jose Iglesias grounded out to third base, Ian Kinsler flew out to deep left field and J.D. Martinez was robbed by Jorge Polanco who snagged a rocket off the slugger's bat in shallow left field before nabbing him at first base.
Top 3rd: Tigers 0, Twins 0
Mike Pelfrey had found himself in quite a few sticky situations this season. Some he has gotten out of, some he hasn't. Luckily for the Tigers, the third inning was one of those he was able to work around.
Danny Santana laid down a bunt and got down to first base with ease before a one-out single off the bat of Jorge Polanco put runners on the corners for the Twins. Miguel Sano couldn't bring a run home as he popped out. With Byung Ho Park and Mike Pelfrey battling, Polanco was able to swipe second base. With two men in scoring position and a full count, Park flew out to left field to end the inning on the tenth pitch of the at-bat.
Bottom 2nd: Tigers 0, Twins 0
Cameron Maybin continues to make his presence felt during his first two nights back with the team, singling with two outs. Unfortunately, James McCann struck out swinging to end the inning.
Maybin can be a difference maker for the Tigers if he can hit for a good average. He's got the speed to torture pitchers if he decides to steal a bag. He wanted to this time around, but Hughes kept him close to the bag.
Nick Castellanos grounded out and Justin Upton popped out to leadoff the inning.
Top 2nd: Tigers 0, Twins 0
Trevor Plouffe smacked a leadoff single to left field and moved up to second base on a wild pitch, but Mike Pelfrey dialed it in and set the next three Twins down to get out of the inning.
Brian Dozier grounded out to third, Eddie Rosario grounded out back to Pelfrey and Juan Centeno grounded out to short.
Bottom 1st: Tigers 0, Twins 0
J.D. Martinez stroked a one-out single to center field but was never able to find his way home despite bullets off the bats of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, who both ripped shots to the outfield that just happened to fall right where the defense was playing.
Ian Kinsler flew out to left field to leadoff the inning.
Top 1st: Tigers 0, Twins 0
Mike Pelfrey got things started with a strikeout of former teammate Joe Mauer. He followed that up with a punch out of Jorge Polanco before walking Miguel Sano with two outs.
No harm, no foul, though as Pelfrey got Byung Ho Park to line out to end the inning.
It's nice to see Pelfrey get off to a good start. That hasn't been his problem, though. He needs to pitch well tonight because the Tigers are going up against Phil Hughes, who has dominated the Tigers over his career.