DETROIT -- It's the middle of September, and Jake Odorizzi is settling into a groove on the mound. The 28-year-old righty delivered his second consecutive strong performance Tuesday night as the Twins beat the Tigers, 5-3, at Comerica Park.The only hit Odorizzi allowed through six innings was a check-swing bloop
DETROIT -- It's the middle of September, and Jake Odorizzi is settling into a groove on the mound. The 28-year-old righty delivered his second consecutive strong performance Tuesday night as the Twins beat the Tigers, 5-3, at Comerica Park.
The only hit Odorizzi allowed through six innings was a check-swing bloop single by Tigers rookie Christin Stewart in the first inning. Statcast™ tracked the ball at 75.4 mph off the bat. Odorizzi's start came on the heels of another stellar outing, when he no-hit the Yankees into the eighth inning last week.
"It's nice to have these mixed in," Odorizzi said of his last two starts. "It's not ideal to have them your last couple games of the season. You prefer to have it to build on during the season. Nevertheless, I'm not going to get too picky. I'm just glad it's happening now."
Odorizzi (7-10) assessed that his recent success has a lot to do with efficiency.
"Getting early-count outs, executing pitches early, that's the big thing," Odorizzi said. "Getting early-count outs, that's how you get deep in the game. Not trying to waste pitches. Just going after guys."
He threw 84 pitches (56 strikes) and thought he might have stayed in longer if he wasn't coming off 120 pitches thrown against the Yankees.
"He was rolling," manager Paul Molitor said. "His pitch count was really good. Maybe one of his best nights in terms of how deep he went and how few pitches he had to throw to get there."
The Tigers' second hit didn't come until Nicholas Castellanos led off the seventh inning with a single. It was the start of a big frame for the Tigers, who scored two on a one-out triple by Michael Mahtook. Odorizzi gave way to Matt Magill, who stranded Mahtook at third base with two straight strikeouts.
The Twins' offense finally cracked Tigers starter Daniel Norris (0-5) and scored in back-to-back innings in the sixth and seventh. Jorge Polanco continued his hot streak on this road trip with a leadoff double in the sixth inning. Polanco is now 10-for-22 in the last six games. He scored on a one-out single by Christopher Austin. Later in the inning, Jake Cave's grounder hit off the glove of a diving Dawel Lugo at second base. The ball trickled into the outfield, allowing Robbie Grossman to score to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
The Twins tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning to build a 5-0 lead, including a leadoff home run by Chris Gimenez, whose second home run of the season had an exit velocity of 105.3 mph, according to Statcast™.
"The sixth inning I thought was actually tougher than the seventh, just because it took me a little while to get loose," Odorizzi said. "But when you're scoring runs, you're not too upset about it."
Odorizzi doesn't have much to be upset about right now. His last two starts mark the first time this season he has gone at least six innings in back-to-back games.
"It's nice to have some starts like this to finish the year," he said. "Hopefully something to build on going into next year."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With two on and two outs in the seventh inning, Austin smoked a double down the left-field line, scoring both runners and giving the Twins a 5-0 lead. At the time, it appeared those runs were just providing some extra cushion. But with the Tigers scoring three unanswered runs, Austin's double ended up being the difference.
"[Sandy Baez] threw me a couple really good changeups, then left one up," Austin said. "When you get a pitch up in the zone, off a guy like him with such good stuff, it's always good when you get a pitch up in the zone."
Tuesday marked the seventh time in his career that Austin racked up at least three RBIs, and it was the first time he's done so with the Twins. Austin was traded from the Yankees on April 30.
Miguel Sano's four strikeouts mark the ninth time in his career he has struck out at least four times in a game. The last time Sano did that was April 1 against the Orioles. Sano's six games with at least four strikeouts since the start of last season is tied for fourth-most among American League hitters.
• Sano focused on shedding weight for 2019
The Twins conclude their stay in Detroit with a 12:10 p.m. CT first pitch Wednesday at Comerica Park. Minnesota will use Gabriel Moya (3-1, 4.73 ERA) as the "opener" again. Moya opened with one inning pitched in the Twins' 6-1 win over the Tigers on Monday. Spencer Turnbull will make his first career start for the Tigers.
** Tyler Fenwick ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.