Minneapolis — These are not happy times for Ian Kinsler.
His team is fighting for a playoff spot and he is being told he can’t play. It’s killing him.
“It would have been nice to play today and just miss one game,” he said. “But it is what it is.”
He will miss at least three, but he hopes he will clear the concussion protocol and be ready to play Friday against the Kansas City Royals.
Kinsler warmed up, threw, took ground balls and hit in the batting cage Thursday morning. He said he felt OK immediately afterward, but, in accordance with league protocol, had to wait a full 24 hours before he can be tested again.
Kinsler told reporters after the Tigers completed the sweep of the Twins that he came through the baseball activities asymptomatic.
If he passes the tests on Friday afternoon, he could be in the lineup Friday night.
Kinsler was hit in the head by a pitch from Indians starter Trevor Bauer on Sunday.
Anibal Sanchez, making an important spot start and coming off a shaky outing against the Twins on Sept. 14, had already given up a home run and a double in the first inning Thursday. With one out, the Twins’ Max Kepler tried to steal second base.
Initially, second base umpire Ryan Blakney ruled Kepler beat James McCann’s throw and Andrew Romine’s tag. Initial replays didn’t seem to offer a clear view of the play.
But in the Tigers clubhouse, coach Matt Martin — who monitors the video — thought he saw enough to risk a challenge in the first inning. Though, he admitted, he wasn’t sure.
Asked if he had a good angle on it, he said, “Not really. I think they kind of pieced some things together. There was so much dirt kicked up. We kind of just made a quick decision on it.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s challenge it.’ We felt like it might be a big play. And as it turned out, it was huge. We needed to get those outs early.”
The call was overturned and Sanchez not only got out of the inning, he didn’t allow another hit through five innings.
“We didn’t have a great view of it, but we felt he was out,” Martin said. “If it didn’t go our way, oh well. But at this time of year, every out is crucial.”
Sticking with Greene
Reliever Shane Greene got the final out of the seventh inning, leaving the bases loaded with the Tigers up 2-1. But in the eighth, the Tigers up 3-1, he gave up an RBI double to Jorge Polanco before striking out Miguel Sano with the tying run on third.
In his last 12 outings, Greene has allowed 13 runs in 14 1/3 innings.
Manager Brad Ausmus said his confidence in Greene has not wavered.
“I am not concerned at all,” he said. “His velocity is good, he just threw one bad ball to Polanco. I am not remotely concerned about Greenie.”
Romine, getting the start at second for Kinsler, had three hits, stole a base and scored twice.
He stole a key run almost single-handedly in the eighth — a run that put the Tigers up 3-1.
He led off with a single, stole second and motored to third when catcher Juan Centeno’s throw went into center field.
He scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Iglesias.
Romine has hit safely in all nine games that he’s batted against the Twins, going 12 for 27 (.444). In his career at Target Field, he’s hitting .364 (20 for 55).
Oh no you don't
Tigers second baseman Erick Aybar’s intentions were right, but the execution was just a tad off.
With speedy Byron Buxton on first in the eighth inning, he intentionally missed Brian Dozier’s infield pop-up — thinking he’d get an easy force at second and get Buxton off the bases. But, he let the ball hit his glove, which cued the umpire to nullify the play — Dozier was out, Buxton safe at first.
“The ball can’t hit the glove,” Ausmus said. “If he just lets it fall, it’s OK.”