Sixth-inning gambles bite Detroit Tigers in loss to Minnesota Twins
Detroit – The print culture AJ Hinch tried to instill in the Tigers this spring has already paid off this season.
But by the sixth inning Wednesday, it may have crossed the line from aggressive to reckless.
After a run, the Tigers had two runners thrown on the plate – expensive considering that they lost the game and the series 3-2 to the Minnesota Twins in front of 7,568 spectators at Comerica Park.
BOX SCORE: Twins 3, Tigers 2
“They play the game to try to score,” Hinch said afterwards. “If they execute and you make a mistake, it’s a punch in the stomach. If you put pressure on them, they won’t get executed and you get a run, everyone is in the fugout. Pressure.”
Willi Castro was waved home by Chip Hale, the third base coach, and tried to hit from first to left goal by Miguel Cabrera on a double left field. The fact that there were no outs and the ball was hit to the left made it a dangerous chance.
And then take into account the strong arm of shortstop Andrelton Simmons, whose squadron on the record was a missile that boarded way ahead of the sliding Castro.
“In a close game it always gets enlarged and it doesn’t feel good when you kick the guy out at home,” said Hinch. “(Left fielder Jake Cave) was down when Castro finished third. He made the long throw to Simmons, one of the best in the league.
“Obviously it’s an aggressive game there. No outs and I understand the extent. But I think it was more about the execution of the twins and less about Willi or something like that.”
Castro, who scored three goals that day, only regretted the piece once.
“When I saw the left fielder dipping for the ball, I stopped a bit (before rounding the second base),” he said. “I didn’t want to be doubled. I think if I had kept running I would have been safe at home.”
After a walk to Jeimer Candelario and a single by Nomar Mazara, the bases for Jonathan Schoop were loaded. Cabrera marked the third place and tried to hit the right field of medium depth with a fly ball.
Kyle Garlick, the twins’ right fielder, threw him several paces out.
“Miggy will read the deep,” Hinch said when asked if Hale would try to keep Cabrera in third place. “A lot can happen on a throw of 180 or 200 feet. But you executed. There is no fault there. It’s a piece that you need to execute perfectly on a long throw.
“He did it in the air, chest-high throw, light label. If they’re not done, we’re talking about Miggy’s aggressive base run.”
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Rookie Akil Baddoo, who had already tripled in one run, was on deck and had no more RBI chance.
“It’s a profit business,” said Hinch. “And it’s difficult to get two outs at home.”
The Tigers didn’t do much offensive outside of that riot in the sixth inning. Baddoo’s triple barreled run, but it was doubled on a line back to Twins starter Kenta Maeda from third place.
Wilson Ramos’ solo homer in the fifth run was the only other run. Twin helper Alex Colome took the last six outs to secure the win.
“We won a series and lost a series and we had an opportunity to win that series,” said Hinch. “The effort has been great, the attention to detail has been pretty good. We had a few breakdowns, but after six games I’m proud of this group.”
Also frustrating for the Tigers was how the Twins flipped the score in the sixth inning. By a fraction of an inch. That was how close Matthew Boyd was to getting out of the sixth inning by a 2-1 lead.
Putting up seven full innings for the first time since Aug. 18, 2019, Boyd was a picture of efficiency. He was the first to hit the first 19 thugs he faced (and 24 of the 27).
“I loved the way he hit the strike zone,” said Hinch. “First strikes were almost automatic. And when you hit the zone with so much conviction, good things can happen when you have your good stuff.
“He gave us an excellent chance to win.”
Boyd had been given a double-play grounder to clear a runner in the sixth. Then, after delivering a single to Garlick on a 1-2 fastball, ardent Nelson Cruz hit a short hopper that distracted Castro’s glove from the shortstop. The second baseman Schoop reacted quickly, reached the carom and threw a strong throw at the first.
Cruz was initially called, but the replay showed that he had just hit the throw.
“It was like an ankle ball coming at me,” said Castro. “It’s hard to get that.”
Instead of being out of the inning, Boyd faced Jorge Polanco with two. Boyd had hit Polanco with a slider in the fourth. This time Polanco put a 0-1 slider on the gap in the middle right, scored both runners and brought the twins 3-2 from one down to the top.
“That was a tough turn on either side in this sixth inning,” said Hinch. “It was a bang-bang game and they’re playing again. Cruz did a good job. He doesn’t run (well) but he worked hard on that game and never gave up.
“Nelson Cruz finds a way into the middle of something against us in all three games.”
Boyd, who faced 55 goals this season without giving up the home run, ended up with eight eliminations. It wasn’t the Polanco hit that worried him afterwards. It was the Garlick single.
“Polanco’s hit was the knife that broke the skin,” said Boyd. “But if you go further back I had it 1-2 and I didn’t take my pitch. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but I didn’t take my pitch there and that changes the complexion of the inning.”