Bailey Ober threw six solid innings and Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer helped the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 on Monday.
“We are very, very happy with the way Bailey is throwing the ball,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “His slider was serious today, but his success isn’t just due to his gear. If he needs a pitch, he’ll find a way to make one.”
It was Ober’s first win since July 5, but the rookie righthander has gone 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last eight starts. More importantly, at least in his mind, he struckout 40 while walking only six.
“I had to make some adjustments because I was fighting with my mechanics earlier in the season,” he said. “When I’m in a rhythm I don’t run guys because I challenge them and make them swing the bat. I’ve come back to that in the past few starts.”
The Twins won three of the four. Detroit has lost four out of five, scoring just nine points.
“I thought we had some very good at bats today and we had a few that we gave up early in the at bat,” said Tigers manager AJ Hinch. “We’ve done enough to give ourselves a chance, but we still need some big hits.”
Ober (2-2) held the Tigers’ slump to two runs on five hits in six innings. He struckout five batters without walking a batter. Two Minnesota relievers closed the game, with Alex Colome pitching the ninth inning for his 10th save.
The Tigers got a brief reprieve in the ninth. Harold Castro grounded back to the mound with two outs, but a replay showed that Colome’s throw pulled first baseman Miguel Sano off the sack. That gave Detroit runners on first and third base, but pinch hitter Robbie Grossman flew out to the right.
“We don’t think about how the runners were doing at the time,” Baldelli said. “Alex is just focused on getting the last one out of the game.”
Tigers-starter Casey Mize (7-7) gave up three runs on five hits – including Donaldson’s homer, his 21st of the season – in six innings. He walked once and struckout four batters.
“I thought I had done a lot of good things, but I got behind the boys in the fourth inning and it turned into four consecutive long at bats,” said Mize. “That ends with the homer and costs us the game.”
Derek Hill gave the Tigers an 1-0 lead in the third inning and hit a solo homer into the Detroit bullpen, but the Twins scored three runs in the fourth.
With one out, Jorge Polanco tied the game with an RBI single and Donaldson followed with a homerun into the undergrowth above the centerfield fence.
Zack Short’s bloop-single brought the Tigers to 3-2 in the fifth.
Detroit ran itself out of a possible rally in the seventh. With one out, Harold Castro singled and Victor Reyes followed with an infield-single. Twins first baseman Miguel Sano was unable to hold onto Polanco’s throw from second base, but recovered in time to throw out Castro at third base.
Max Kepler led the first pitch of the ninth inning back through the middle at 95 mph, hitting Tigers reliever Miguel Del Pozo on the chin. The ball bounced back to third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who first threw out Kepler.
Del Pozo, who remained on his knees throughout the game, seemed to tell the training staff that he was fine, and he walked away with a towel against his bloody chin.
“Looks like he needs some stitches and of course we’ll be watching him for any signs of concussion, but he was alert and seemed fine,” Hinch said. “He watched Jeimer break it — there was just blood everywhere.”
The match, a make-up of a July 16th rainstorm, was played in front of a minuscule crowd.
The Tigers chose RHP Jason Foley to Triple-A Toledo and recalled Del Pozo from the Mud Hens.
Twins: Return home for a two-game run against the Chicago Cubs. John Gant (4-8, 4.00 ERA) opens Tuesday-evening against Chicago’s Zach Davies (6-10, 5.00).
Tigers: Stay home to open a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night. Tarik Skubal (8-11, 4.01) starts the opener for the Tigers against Cole Irvin (9-12, 3.68).
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