Tigers' Alex Wilson breaks leg in loss to Twins
Detroit — Alex Wilson, right leg already in a cast, a walking cane by his locker, sadly shook his head.
“Exhausted,” he said, when asked to describe his emotions. “This is kind of like my season in a nutshell.”
Wilson’s right fibula was broken, a clean fracture, by a 103.8-mph line drive off the bat of Joe Mauer — a shot that triggered an eight-run eighth inning and a 10-4 for by the Twins Saturday night.
“I got skin cancer (on his nose earlier in the season), grinded through the second half of the season, my daughter (Rosie) broke her collarbone last night and I break my leg today,” Wilson said. “2017 wasn’t real kind to me.”
Wilson, who took his daughter to the emergency room before coming to the park Saturday morning, will be in a cast for four to six weeks. Because it was a non-displaced fracture, no surgery will be required.
“It was disheartening to see that,” said Tigers starter Matthew Boyd, whose second straight quality start went for naught. “You never want to see someone take a line drive off their body. But Alex is the toughest guy in this locker room. There’s not a doubt in my mind he’s going to come back even stronger next year.”
Wilson joined a growing list of Tigers who are being shut down for the final week of the season.
Earlier Saturday, manager Brad Ausmus announced outfielder Mikie Mahtook’s season was also over with a Grade 2 groin strain.
Miguel Cabrera left the game in the first inning with a recurrence of lower back stiffness. He is going to get an MRI and likely won’t be in the lineup Sunday.
“He was going to get an MRI once he got back to Miami (after the season),” Ausmus said. “But we just decided we would try to schedule one now and try to find out what the issue is.”
Pitcher Jeff Ferrell, who was hit in the head with a line drive on Monday, is still in concussion protocol. Outfielder Tyler Collins was unavailable Saturday with a strain of the intercostal (ribs) muscles.
In the long eighth inning, third baseman Jeimer Candelario banged his right knee chasing a foul pop-up in front of the Tigers’ dugout. He was removed from the game, diagnosed with a right knee bruise and is listed as day-to-day.
All of that, and six straight losses going into the final home game of the season.
“We have had good crowds despite the fact that we aren’t winning games,” Ausmus said. “Quite frankly, I would just like to win a game.”
This one was clipping along just fine.
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning after Boyd allowed just two runs (one earned) and four hits through 6 2/3 innings. But, as has often been the case this month, it unraveled quickly.
The Twins batted around in the eighth inning.
Mauer’s liner off Wilson’s leg started it.
“It went numb at first,” Wilson said. “Then it felt warm, I guess, as I was walking around the mound trying to see if I was going to be able to go. I was able to squat because it’s not a weight-bearing bone. But when I tried to throw a (warm-up) pitch, I felt a pop.
“That was the end of my night. That’s when the pain really started shooting through.”
Wilson said he thought the bone shot through his skin. But, although he needed help from trainer Kevin Rand and pitching coach Rich Dubee, he walked off the field on his own power.
“I’ve always told myself I’d never be carted off a field,” Wilson said. “I would find a way to walk off. This was hopefully as close as it comes.”
Daniel Stumpf took over and gave up three straight singles — to Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar — none hard-hit and all after he got two strikes on the hitters. Two runs were in and the Twins were just heating up.
Stumpf was relieved by Joe Jimenez who was … ineffective. He hit Byron Buxton to load the bases. With one out, Robbie Grossman rapped a two-run single and what had been a good-sized crowd began filing out.
The eight-run inning was capped by a three-run home run by Zack Granite, a left-handed hitter, off left-hander Blaine Hardy. It was the first big-league home run for Granite, who had entered the game earlier in the inning as a pinch-runner for Mauer.
He is the first player in Twins history to enter the game as a pinch-runner and hit a home run in the same inning.
It was the eighth time the Tigers have allowed 10 or more runs this month.
Before all that tumult, though, Boyd was the story.
After he came within an out of a no-hitter and pitched a complete-game shutout in his last start, Boyd gave up a hit and a run on his second pitch of the game Saturday. He then went into shutdown mode for six-plus innings.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Boyd said.
Brian Dozier bunted Boyd’s second pitch of the game toward third baseman Candelario, who fielded it on a hop and then fired the ball past first baseman Cabrera. Dozier circled the bases and scored as the ball rolled all the way into the right-field corner.
It was scored a single and three-base error on Candelario — his fourth error in the last nine games.
“Just trying to make a play for the team,” Candelario said. “The bad thing is when you don’t want to make plays. When you try to make (aggressive) plays, that’s going to happen.”
Boyd was unfazed — much like he was on Sunday after Tim Anderson of the White Sox broke up his no-hitter with two outs in the ninth. He allowed just one other hit through the sixth inning, striking out six.
“It’s in the past once it happens,” Boyd said. “You can’t control it, so just move forward.”
He was commanding the inside quadrant of the strike zone with his fastball and off-speed pitches. Evidence of how off balance the Twins hitters were: He got 11 swinging strikes and 17 called strikes (eight with his fastball).
“Just trying to keep a constant mix,” Boyd said. “I’ve faced them five times this year already, so you just have to keep mixing it up on them. They know you and you know them. So, it’s just constantly moving the ball around and staying on the attack.”
Boyd left to a warm ovation with two outs in the seventh after giving up a double to Ehire Adrianza and an RBI single to Robbie Grossman.
The Tigers offense, subdued by Twins ace Ervin Santana (three runs in seven innings), was highlighted by a pair of home runs from Efren Navarro. His 404-foot blast to right field in the sixth inning was his first big-league home run since July 26, 2014 — a blast he hit off then-Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
He hit his second in the ninth, to left-center — the first multiple home run game of his career.