Twins pounce early to keep Tigers reeling
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins carried the momentum from their epic comeback victory over the Tigers a night earlier to a 9-5 win on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
The Twins, fresh off scoring seven runs in the ninth for a walk-off victory, jumped all over Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits. The bottom of the lineup did most of the damage for the Twins, with Aaron Hicks, Kurt Suzuki and Danny Santana contributing with two RBIs each. Torii Hunter gave the Twins two insurance runs with his 14th homer in the sixth off reliever Buck Farmer, who was optioned to Triple-A after the game.
"It was a much-needed win yesterday and we could've easily came back flat and felt like we wasted it all last night but we were right back at it," said Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who was announced as an All-Star during the game. "That's the good thing about this team. Every time we step on the field, we believe we can win a ballgame."
The offensive outburst backed right-hander Phil Hughes, who picked up the win but didn't have his best stuff, going five innings and surrendering four runs on eight hits. The Tigers charged back into the game with three runs in the fourth and another in the fifth but couldn't quite make the comeback like the Twins did on Friday, when they erased a five-run lead in the ninth.
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Twins knock around Simon: Coming off their incredible rally Friday to even the four-game series, the Twins kept it going early against Simon. The Twins scored three runs in the second and four more in the third to take a seven-run lead. Hicks knocked Simon out of the game with a two-run triple before scoring on a two-out RBI single from Santana.
"If you peruse the lineup up and down, everybody had their hand in it at some point," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Just a lot of guys contributed and we needed it."
Simon, who has given up five or more earned runs in his past five games, said this has been the most frustrating stretch of his career.
"Obviously we need him to get past this stretch sooner or later," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Martinez ejected: Designated hitter Victor Martinez was tossed in the fifth inning by home-plate umpire Marty Foster for arguing balls and strikes. The ejection came shortly after the Tigers had battled back to cut Minnesota's lead to three and left Detroit without one of its big bats. Martinez had led off the fourth inning with a home run. More >
"In the year and a half I've been with him, I haven't seen him get that angry about a call," Ausmus said. "He's got a great eye, actually sometimes even goes a little out of the strike zone with two strikes to fight pitches off."
Hunter provides breathing room: After the Tigers charged back to make it a three-run game, Hunter gave the Twins two big insurance runs with a blast to left off Farmer that reached the third deck. It helped Hunter move into sixth on the Twins' all-time list for RBIs with 760 and into seventh in runs scored with 714. He also became just the second Twins player to reach the third deck, joining Josh Willingham.
"I'm 29 plus 10," Hunter said with a laugh. "I told all the guys when I came in that you got to have kids in college to do something like that. But they all just laughed and said I was old. It ruined the joke."
Tigers mount mini-comeback: Despite trailing by seven runs in the third, the Tigers showed some fight, clawing back into the game. After Martinez's homer in the fourth, Detroit added on two more with a James McCann single. They added another run in the fifth when Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI double but couldn't get any closer.
"That's granddad pop right there. You need grandkids to go third deck." -- Dozier, on Hunter's towering home run
"The energy in the dugout was really good. We were chipping away. We felt like we had a chance to get back in the game, but then Torii's home run really kind of was the final nail. Not the final nail, but it didn't help." -- Ausmus
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Hunter, who turns 40 on July 18, reached 14 homers before the All-Star break for the fourth time in his 19-year career and first time since 2010. Hunter hit 17 homers in each of the last two seasons and hasn't reached the 20-homer mark since 2011 with the Angels.
Santana was ruled safe at first base on a bunt attempt in sixth, but the Tigers challenged the play. After a review, first-base umpire Mark Wegner's call was overturned.
Tigers: The Tigers will call up Shane Greene to start Sunday in the 2:10 p.m. ET series finale against the Twins. Greene began the season in Detroit but was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on June 12. He was 4-6 with a 5.82 ERA before being sent down.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins at 1:10 p.m. CT in the final game before the All-Star break. Gibson has been Minnesota's best starter this season, posting a 3.04 ERA in 17 starts.
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