DETROIT -- The Tigers lost 11 of 13 games before Monday's 10-8 win over the Twins, and they lost those 11 in seemingly different fashion each time. Nothing compared with the eight-run lead they lost on Monday before coming back.For that matter, few Tigers games in recent memory would have
DETROIT -- The Tigers lost 11 of 13 games before Monday's 10-8 win over the Twins, and they lost those 11 in seemingly different fashion each time. Nothing compared with the eight-run lead they lost on Monday before coming back.
For that matter, few Tigers games in recent memory would have compared.
Not since May 8, 2004, when the Tigers saw a 10-run lead vanish in one inning at Texas, had Detroit blown as large of a lead as it did on Monday. The Tigers led by eight after the first inning, having knocked out Minnesota rookie Jose Berrios with six hits and four walks.
They had seemingly taken out two weeks of frustration on a Twins team they swept in Minnesota a few weeks back, but the lead didn't last three hours.
"It was the type of game that is a nightmare, really, for a manager," Brad Ausmus said, "because you have an eight-run lead, and by all realistic chances, you should win it. But until you get 27 outs, you haven't won it.
"It's tough for a pitcher and a catcher, because the pitcher has to attack hitters, because he doesn't want to walk them. So a lot of times, the hitters have a better idea what's coming in hitters' counts. It's a little bit of a delicate balance."
If any pitcher seemed capable of handling it, it was Jordan Zimmermann, who had given up eight earned runs total over 48 innings this season. But a pair of home runs off a pitcher who had allowed just three all season began the rally, starting with Kurt Suzuki's two-run shot in the second inning and continuing with Miguel Sano's solo homer in the third.
"I'm going to pound the zone no matter what," Zimmermann said, "but I got out there in the second and told myself, 'You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to live on the corner. You can live on the outer third, and if you give up a few runs, then we're going to be fine.' The next thing you know, they've got seven on the board and I'm scratching my head a little bit."
Four of those runs came in the fourth, helped by a pair of errors. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's errant throw allowed Trevor Plouffe to score after his leadoff single and steal of third, though three consecutive singles from the bottom of the order made that miscue irrelevant. Ian Kinsler's attempt to get a third out on Eduardo Nunez's grounder deep in the hole sent another run home.
Zimmermann carried the one-run lead into, and nearly through, the seventh, before a third error cost him. Byung Ho Park's two-out double brought up Plouffe, whose fly ball to right sent J.D. Martinez galloping toward the warning track.
Martinez got to the ball and tried to reach out at it, only to have it skip out of his glove.
"I can honestly say I've never dropped a ball like that," Martinez said. "I was running, I was coming a long way for it, and once I picked it up, I knew I had it. I just went up to catch it, and it just hit my palm and popped out."
But the tie score didn't last the inning, as Nick Castellanos homered in the bottom half to pull Detroit back ahead. Nobody felt more relieved than Martinez.
"I was probably the happiest person in the dugout," said Martinez, who added an insurance homer an inning later. "I wanted to kiss him, because I had that sense of responsibility."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.