Minneapolis — Crazy, crazy night for the Tigers Thursday.
They charged back after trailing 8-2 in the second inning and got within a run after the fifth — but the Twins sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run sixth and put the Tigers to rout, 15-8.
It wasn’t tense or particularly well-played, but it wasn’t devoid of action. The Tigers bashed four home runs, including going back-to-back for the first time this season. The Twins countered with three home runs and 15 hits. The Tigers also made three errors, which contributed to five unearned runs.
But the clubhouse stayed closed to the media for nearly 30 minutes afterward, as general manager Al Avila and Gardenhire tried to figure a way to get a fresh pitching arm or two to Minneapolis before the game Friday night.
It's not looking likely.
"We were having conversations," Gardenhire said. "Trying to figure out how to get through these next three days before the day off on Monday. It's going to be dicey. We need our starter to get into the second half of the game (Friday).
"That would be great. If not, I might be pitching."
The Tigers bullpen was taxed coming into the game, working 20 1/3 innings collectively over the previous five days. And that was before Francisco Liriano lasted just 1 2/3 innings Thursday.
He gave up eight runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks.
"He just didn't make any pitches," Gardenhire said. "They were on him pretty good. They were swinging early, kind of ambushing him a little bit and he never got into any kind of a rhythm. They didn't allow him."
Here's the domino effect from yet another short start: The Tigers are going to need to call up a starting pitcher from Toledo for Saturday night to plug in for the injured Artie Lewicki (elbow). Although nothing has been made official, left-hander Ryan Carpenter is expected to be that guy.
After the bullpen worked another 6 1/3 innings Thursday, they’d probably like to bring up at least one other fresh arm. But that would require some tricky roster alterations. So, it appears the Tigers are going to roll the dice hoping starter Matthew Boyd can give them six or seven innings Friday.
"We need a starter to go deep, that's really it," Gardenhire said.
And to think it started so joyously for the Tigers.
Nick Castellanos hit a low-flying missile into the bullpen in left. It was his 18th of the season, a two-run shot off Twins starter Ervin Santana. It left his bat with an exit velocity of 105 mph and traveled 398 feet.
Better still, his bat flip — he flipped it with his left hand behind him — was caught by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez.
"I had just put pine tar on my hand and the bat got stuck when I went to spin around," Castellanos said. "I did it by accident."
In Castellanos' next at-bat, Santana threw a 91-mph fastball over his head. The Tigers bench got up on the first step, yelling out at Santana. Castellanos stared him down, too.
"I don't know," he said, when asked if he thought Santana threw at him. "He said he wasn't."
Gardenhire, who managed Santana in Minnesota, didn't think he threw at him.
"It was a wake-up call for us, but I don't believe he threw the ball at him," he said. "He's coming off a finger injury, we all know that. That ball just got away. It did wake up the dugout a little bit."
Castellanos ended up walking in that at-bat and then doubling off the scoreboard in right-center field in the fifth.
Mikie Mahtook (two-run shot) and James McCann went back-to-back in the fourth — something the Tigers hadn’t done since last September — making it an 8-5 game.
They scored twice in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to one, and chased Santana, but it still felt unfulfilling. It proved to be a critical waste.
Santana left a bases-loaded, no-out mess after a single by Jim Adduci, double by Castellanos and a walk to Niko Goodrum.
Trevor May relieved him and promptly walked Martinez to make it 8-6. After Mahtook struck out, McCann walked in another run.
But the Tigers couldn’t break the door down. Ronny Rodriguez, subbing at shortstop for Jose Iglesias (hand), struck out and Victor Reyes tapped back to the mound.
After relievers Zac Reininger (who struck out all four batters he faced) and Victor Alcantara (two scoreless innings with three strikeouts) calmed things for three innings, the Twins went back to work against Zach McAllister in the sixth.
McAllister faced six hitters, five of whom reached and scored, including Ehire Adrianza, who smacked a long, two-run home run to right.
Goodrum, who came in hitting .333 against his former team, hit his 13th home run of the season and fifth against the Twins in the seventh.