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Twins pick up Pineda with 3 homers in Detroit

Righty goes 5 in return from IL; Cruz, Cron, Garver all go deep, while Marwin adds 4 hits
June 8, 2019

DETROIT -- Michael Pineda hunched over and flailed his right arm in frustration when he saw his fastball for Nicholas Castellanos pulled into shallow left field on Friday night. It was arguably Pineda’s most pivotal high-leverage situation, after Niko Goodrum reached via a one-out single and stole second with the

DETROIT -- Michael Pineda hunched over and flailed his right arm in frustration when he saw his fastball for Nicholas Castellanos pulled into shallow left field on Friday night.

It was arguably Pineda’s most pivotal high-leverage situation, after Niko Goodrum reached via a one-out single and stole second with the game tied at 2. The veteran right-hander had already been charged with the Tigers’ first two runs, and the go-ahead single from Castellanos ensured a no-decision for Pineda, who was activated from the 10-day injured list earlier in the day to make his first start since May 27.

“I felt really good tonight,” Pineda said. “Just a couple mistakes, especially with my slider. But I felt pretty good today. I had a little bit of rest and I felt very strong tonight and I used it.”

Box score

Pineda allowed three runs across five innings, but the Twins (42-20) were bailed out by late-inning home runs from C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz to beat Detroit, 6-3, and take the first of a three-game series at Comerica Park. Perhaps more importantly, Pineda -- who was on the IL to deal with tendinitis in his right knee -- said he was pain-free.

Pineda entered Friday with a 4-3 record and a 5.34 ERA through 59 innings. And given his recent time off, his start was considered a step in the right direction, especially given his fastball velocity sat between 90-97 mph.

“I think he came out and I think he felt as fresh as a guy could possibly be,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He went out there. I think the velo was something that we probably haven’t seen yet this year, so in that sense he looked really good. He pitched with his fastball I think very well at times. It was a start where it probably didn’t go completely cleanly and quickly, but he had to work and he continued to battle and make good pitches. He doesn’t quit.”

Minnesota’s offense never relented, despite a good effort from Tigers (23-37) starter Matthew Boyd, who struck out eight, walked none and allowed three runs across seven innings. Mitch Garver was able to capitalize on a full-count fastball from Boyd in the third for a two-run home run, his 10th long ball of the season, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead. Byron Buxton started the rally with a one-out single, made it to second on a balk -- which resulted in Tigers manager and former longtime Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire’s ejection -- and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

The Twins threatened again in the fifth, hitting back-to-back two-out singles before Boyd struck out Cruz on three pitches. In the sixth, Cron took Boyd deep on a 91.7 mph fastball for his 14th home run, tying the game at 3.

In the eighth, Boyd was lifted for Joe Jimenez, who surrendered a leadoff homer to Cruz -- an opposite-field blast to the right-field stands with an estimated distance of 357 feet -- to take the lead for good. Cron finished a 2-for-4 showing with a double later in the inning and scored on a single from Marwin Gonzalez -- one of four hits for the Twins’ third baseman -- to bring in one more for good measure.

“You never know who’s going to be contributing,” said Garver, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs. “It’s nice that the new guys can contribute like that, because that’s something we lacked last year. We needed that extra run in the eighth or the seventh to put you over the top.”

Rookie Ryne Harper (1-0) notched his first Major League win after striking out the side in a perfect seventh. Blake Parker earned his ninth save.

“It was awesome,” Harper said. “It really means a lot. It’s special. It’s something I’ll remember. But at the same time, I’m just glad we won. I love our team. It’s great. We’re a lot of fun. So I’m excited.”