MINNEAPOLIS -- The first time Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano squared off against one another was May 31, 2006, when both were highly coveted young starters -- Liriano with the Twins and Santana with the Angels.
Liriano, who notched an All-Star appearance that year as a 22-year-old, returned to Minnesota to face his former team for the seventh time in his career on Thursday, but it wasn't a warm welcome.
The Twins racked up eight runs off of Liriano (four earned) in 1 2/3 innings and handed the Tigers a 15-8 loss. Minnesota hit two homers off the left-hander, including a second-inning two-run shot from Miguel Sano that knocked Liriano out of the game and left Detroit in an 8-2 hole.
From there, the game devolved into a slugfest and the Tigers gradually chipped back into contention -- at least for a brief time -- thanks to an offensive outpouring of their own that was highlighted by four home runs.
"[Minnesota] scored a bunch of runs early, and [Liriano] obviously didn't have his stuff," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They whacked him around pretty good, and then we did a nice job of getting back into the ballgame."
After Nicholas Castellanos put Detroit on top in the first inning with a two-run homer, Michael Mahtook and James McCann launched back-to-back clouts in the fourth inning, marking the first time this season that Tigers batters homered in consecutive at-bats. Niko Goodrum then hit his 13th home run in the seventh inning.
Mahtook's homer was his first this season in the Majors, having hit a career-high 12 for Detroit last season.
"It's nice," Mahtook said. "Obviously, it's been a struggle this year. I have, what, six weeks left in the season to go out there and play well and help contribute and help us win as best I can. To get the first one out of the way and to put together some good at-bats and hit some balls hard and help us do something positive is nice."
The Tigers got within one run in the fifth inning when they chased Santana and threw two more runs on the board to make it 8-7. But that was as close as they would get before the Twins opened the offensive floodgates and poured on seven runs in the sixth inning.
The 15 runs that Detroit allowed are the most it has yielded in a game this season and the most an opposing team has scored since the White Sox tallied 17 last season on Sept. 14.
Detroit entered the day with a bullpen that was already depleted and depended on six relievers to get them through 7 1/3 innings on Thursday due to Liriano's short start. Gardenhire said the Tigers will not make a roster move to bolster the 'pen for the final three games of this four-game series.
"We need a start, that's what we need," Gardenhire said. "We need a starter to go out there and go good for us. That would work out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
What could have been: In the fifth, the Tigers trimmed their deficit to 8-7 with two bases-loaded walks against Twins reliever Trevor May, and Detroit had a chance to inflict further damage with one out after the second run scored. May got out of trouble, though, striking out Ronny Rodriguez and then getting Victor Reyes to ground out and end the inning.
"Obviously, that was our best opportunity to have a really big inning," Mahtook said. "But [May] is a good pitcher and he had some good stuff today. He competed and threw well, and obviously, going back, we'd like to get two or three more out of that. But we still scored some. We didn't get out empty-handed, and we had an opportunity to go on and try to keep it close."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With one out in the second inning, the Twins' Johnny Field hit a slow ground ball to shortstop Rodriguez and was called out on a bang-bang play at first. Minnesota challenged the call, though, and after review, it was determined that Jim Adduci's foot was not in contact with first base when Field reached the bag. Four of the next five Twins hitters reached base; the only one who didn't was Jorge Polanco, who delivered a sacrifice fly.
If the call was not overturned, Sano would not have been able to cap the Twins' five-run frame with a two-out two-run home run.
Matthew Boyd (7-10, 4.20 ERA) will have a hard time topping the six innings of two-hit, one-run ball he posted against the Twins last Sunday in Detroit, but he'll try on Friday as the series continues with an 8:10 p.m. ET start at Target Field. Boyd has allowed just 53 hits over 78 1/3 career innings against the Twins. Kyle Gibson (6-9, 3.49) will start for Minnesota.