MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers weren't able to end their four-game set with the Twins on a positive note as they were stung by the long ball and fell, 5-4, in Sunday's series finale at Target Field.
With several members of their starting rotation currently dinged up, Detroit elected to turn Sunday into a bullpen game. The Tigers took an early 1-0 lead on Jim Adduci's second-inning RBI double, but Detroit's pitchers encountered trouble in the middle innings, and Eddie Rosario launched a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth to decide the game.
Buck Farmer made his first start of the season for Detroit, and the Tigers intended for him to go two or three innings before handing the game off to the rest of the bullpen.
"I think the takeaway is probably our hitting with runners in scoring position," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a lot of bad at-bats with runners in scoring position. We swung out of the zone a little bit too much, and I think that's probably the story of the game for us. We had people out there. Our pitching did exactly what we hoped they would do -- they gave us an opportunity.
"Farmer did a great job starting off a ballgame and everybody came in. [There were] a lot of pitches being thrown by those arms out there and they sucked it up and made it through it."
Farmer made it through the first two frames without surrendering a hit, but gave up back-to-back singles to Mitch Garver and Christopher Austin to lead off the third, and then was pulled when Joe Mauer grounded out to first and moved both runners over.
Zac Reininger came on to replace Farmer and gave up a sacrifice fly to Rosario and a run-scoring double to Jorge Polanco to put Detroit in a 2-1 hole. An inning later, Max Kepler and Jake Cave each tagged Reininger for a solo homer to push Minnesota's lead to 4-1.
But Detroit took advantage of Minnesota's own pitching woes in the sixth, when Jeimer Candelario led off the inning with a ground-rule double, and Jake Odorizzi walked the next two batters he faced. The Twins turned to right-hander Matt Magill to try to escape the jam, but Magill walked Niko Goodrum to bring in a run. Then, Victor Martinez and Adduci each drove in a run before the inning ended to knot the game at 4-4.
Adduci went 3-for-4 with two RBIs on the afternoon and raised his season batting average to .291. Over Detroit's four-game stretch in Minnesota, Adduci went 6-for-17 and is hitting .362 in the month of August.
From the fifth inning through the seventh, Detroit's bullpen buckled down and held the Twins' bats quiets as Daniel Stumpf tossed two scoreless innings and Alex Wilson tossed one. But in the eighth, Rosario launched a leadoff homer to right off Wilson to score the go-ahead run.
Rosario's blast came on a 93.4 mph fastball that was kept up and in, well outside of the strike zone. But the Twins left fielder still managed to deliver a good swing and sent it 362 feet into the right-field seats. On the first two pitches of the at-bat, Wilson threw Rosario two fastballs up in the zone and got him to swing and miss at both.
"That's the third time this year I've given up a homer on a ball that was out of the strike zone, up and in," Wilson said. "And all three of them, I think, landed in the front row. I guess it's just my year for bad luck, or whatever. But I'd throw the same pitch again. You gotta tip your cap sometimes, I guess. With the two swings I had before that, I still think it's the right pitch. It's just unfortunate what happened to it."
Detroit had a chance to draw even late, but Trevor Hildenberger struck out Goodrum to strand Victor Reyes at third and Jose Iglesias at second and end the game.
With his game-deciding homer, Rosario is now tied for the MLB lead on homers on pitches out of the zone (eight) with J.D. Martinez, per Statcast™. He also leads the Majors with 47 hits on pitches out of the zone. Gardenhire wasn't so quick to write Rosario's hit off as an instance of a good hitter getting ahold of a bad pitch.
"No, I don't tip my cap to him," Gardenhire said. "I know he swings up there, I've seen him do it on TV a thousand times. I think that's a mistake by us. Try to bounce a ball right there. The one pitch that I've seen him -- and I think everybody has seen him -- hit is balls over his head. We know he likes those high balls, that's why he swung at the first two. You try to go up there again, well you're kind of feeding him right there. You've gotta bounce the ball, in my opinion."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Nicholas Castellanos robbed Polanco of extra bases in the eighth when he backtracked and made a timely leaping grab to snag Polanco's drive out of the air. According to Statcast™, the ball left Polanco's bat at an estimated 104 mph. Castellanos' catch came with no outs and the dangerous Miguel Sano standing on deck.
The Tigers will have Monday off before beginning a two-game series with the Cubs at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday to kick off a six-game homestand. Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 4.36 ERA) will get the start for the Tigers. Zimmermann has struggled in recent outings, posting a 5.96 ERA over his past five starts. The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks (9-9, 4.11 ERA).