Tigers pounce early and hold off Twins in opener
MINNEAPOLIS -- David Price tossed 6 1/3 effective innings and was backed by early home runs from Jose Iglesias and Yoenis Cespedes to help lead the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Twins on Monday night at Target Field.
Price gave up three runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, but needed 108 pitches. He allowed a run in the first on an RBI single from Trevor Plouffe after Brian Dozier reached on a double that was originally ruled a foul ball. The Twins didn't score again until the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Dozier, and knocked Price from the game on an RBI single from Danny Santana.
Price outpitched Twins left-hander Tommy Milone, who lasted just four-plus innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks. The Tigers struck early with a four-run first inning, and scored again in the second on a run-scoring double play hit into by Ian Kinsler.
"It wasn't a good start to the game for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "They put up a four-spot against him right out of the chute, which is a tough mountain to climb when you're facing Price. But I thought our at-bats were better against him than in the opener. We kept pecking away. We just couldn't get that last run we needed."
The Twins made it a one-run game with a two-out RBI single from Kurt Suzuki in the eighth, and threatened again in the ninth against closer Joakim Soria. Jordan Schafer led off with a single and was bunted to second base, but Dozier struck out and Torii Hunter grounded out to end the game. More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early outburst: The Tigers didn't waste any time building a cushion for Price. Their four-run first inning began with Iglesias' first home run of the year, a line shot that just cleared the wall in left field. Four batters later, Cespedes launched a no-doubt blast into the bullpen with two on and two outs. According to Statcast, the exit velocity on Cespedes' homer was 108 mph. Of batters with at least 30 at-bats tracked by Statcast this year, Cespedes ranks ninth with an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph. Hanley Ramirez leads the Majors with an average of 99.1 mph.
Milone turns in first rough outing: Milone had been solid early this season, entering with a 3.38 ERA and having pitched into the sixth inning in all three of his starts. But it wasn't the case against the Tigers, as he lasted just four-plus innings. The lefty was hit especially hard in a four-run first inning, and left after giving up two straight singles to open the fifth.
Robinson shows off strong arm: With the Tigers threatening to add to their lead with runners at first and third with nobody out in the seventh, Victor Martinez lifted a fly ball to left field and Iglesias tried to tag up from third, but was thrown out by Shane Robinson for a double play. It kept the Twins in the game, and they were able to cut the deficit to one run, but ultimately fell short.
"He took a chance by throwing it on the fly but it was what the play called for and it worked out," Molitor said. "It was a big run that we kept off the board at the time and gave us a chance."
Soria shuts the door: After the Twins chipped away, one run at a time, Soria finally stopped the leaking in the ninth inning. Schafer led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Santana. But after running the count full to Dozier, Soria pulled the string on a 75-mph slider for a swinging strikeout. He then got former teammate Hunter to ground out to third base to end the game.
"We couldn't put them away, and they just kept hanging on and coming back. The game didn't have a great feel to it for us. I'm sure it had a better feel for them until the very end." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Twins first baseman Joe Mauer flied out to center field in the first inning, it marked his 100th straight at-bat without a home run, which set the longest such streak in his 12-year career. Mauer later doubled in the eighth, giving him 313 in his career, which moved him into sole possession of third place on the club's all-time list ahead of Kent Hrbek.
Ausmus unsuccessfully challenged a call at third base in the seventh inning. With two outs, Miguel Cabrera took off early from second base. Twins reliever Blaine Boyer stepped off the rubber and threw to third baseman Plouffe, whose sweep tag appeared to catch Cabrera on his back foot just before his front foot touched the base. Umpire Tom Hallion called Cabrera out, and the call stood.
Tigers: The Tigers send right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the mound on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET against the Twins. Sanchez dominated Minnesota in the first series of the season, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings in an 11-0 Detroit victory on April 8.
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey is set to start for the Twins on Tuesday night at Target Field. Pelfrey, who is coming off elbow surgery, has been solid this year in the early going, as he's 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts. He tossed seven scoreless frames his last time out on Wednesday against the Royals.
Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.