'They do some damage': Toothless Tigers blanked by Twins
Minneapolis — It didn’t look good on paper right from the get-go.
The Tigers, trying to patch together their rotation and bullpen after a 13-0 loss to the Angels ahead of playing four games in three days against one of the most potent offensive teams in the American League, screamed mismatch.
It didn’t look any better on the field, either.
The Twins slugged a pair of home runs off Tigers starter Tyson Ross and rode the strong pitching of Jake Odorizzi to a 6-0 win Friday at Target Field. The Tigers have been shut out a Major League-leading five times this season and haven't scored in 18 straight innings.
"That team is swinging the bats very good and we knew if we got balls up or left them out over the plate, they'd do some damage," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Ross hung in there for (five-plus) innings, which we desperately need him to do.
"But he didn't have his best stuff tonight."
Odorizzi did. He's now won five consecutive starts and extended his scoreless innings streak to 20. After a double by Christin Stewart with one out in the first inning, he proceeded to mow down 20 straight hitters through the seventh inning.
"They were trying to work the count and the zone was there — a little bigger zone and both pitchers were getting some strikes," Gardenhire said. "You just have to attack the best you can. We hit some balls hard. We hit some lasers just like they did, but right at them."
In keeping with a season-long trend, though, it was Odorizzi's elevated fastball that gave the Tigers the most trouble.
Of Odorizzi's 95 pitches, 50 were four-seam fastballs between 91 and 94 mph, and the majority of those were in the upper register. The Tigers whiffed on five of them, took eight for called strikes and fouled off 17. Only 10 were put in play, nine for outs.
Twins reliever Matt Magill ran the hitless streak to 23 with a clean eighth. Grayson Greiner ended the drought with a leadoff single off Fernando Romero in the ninth.
Compounding the club’s woes, Niko Goodrum left the game with a leg injury after being involved in a collision with Twins' Marwin Gonzalez at first base in the sixth inning.
Gonzalez hit a ground ball that caromed off Ross. Ross recovered it, but made a high, off-balance throw to first. Goodrum leaped for the ball, but his right knee clipped Gonzalez’s forehead. Goodrum left the field limping. Gonzalez also came out of the game.
The initial report on Goodrum was a right patellar bruise. Gonzalez had a facial contusion.
"He had X-rays and everything came back negative," Gardenhire said. "It's just going to depend on how he feels. He's going to wake up sore tomorrow. We'll see how we go from there.
"I don't think it's an injured list situation, (the medical staff) doesn't think it is. But we'll know more in the morning."
Just in case, the Tigers did clear a spot on the active roster, sending pitcher Eduardo Jimenez back to Toledo. Blaine Hardy is back with the team and eligible to be activated off the injured list.
Still, Gardenhire said they will wait until Goodrum checks in Saturday morning to make the corresponding move.
Nearly an hour after the game, Ross and pitching coach Rick Anderson were still in deep conversation in the clubhouse when the media was ushered in.
"I'm a little frustrated," Ross said. "I wasn't able to execute pitches the way I want to. I just wasn't able to be effective."
Ross, who lasted just 1.1 innings and allowed five runs in his last start, cruised through the first two innings on 16 pitches. But things began to unravel in a hurry in the third.
He walked three and gave up a two-run double to Jorge Polanco. Goodrum actually helped bail him out without further damage.
With the bases loaded and one out, Goodrum fielded a hard-hit ground ball from Eddie Rosario. He stepped on first, negating a force play anywhere else, and threw a strike to the plate. Greiner made a quick tag on Max Kepler to complete the reverse double play.
"I threw a couple of good pitches to that leadoff hitter in the third (Mitch Garver) and missed, borderline calls," Ross said. "The trouble started from there. It's just a mechanical adjustment I need to make, and make it quicker than I did."
The Twins, who came in with the highest slugging percentage (.495) in the American League and third-most home runs (64), kept slugging. Garver hit a two-run home run (410 feet) in the fourth and Kepler launched a solo shot in the fifth.
"I've got to be better than I was tonight," Ross said.
Ross isn't the only Tigers player that could accurately make that statement Friday night.