DETROIT -- Lance Lynn had spent the months of May and June turning his arm into one of the Twins' best assets. He did it again on Thursday afternoon against the Tigers at Comerica Park for six innings. The only problem was he pitched 6 2/3 innings, and the bottom of Detroit's order stretched those two outs into three runs in a 3-1 win.
Lynn had only allowed three hits through six innings when he took the mound in the seventh with a 1-0 lead. John Hicks led off with a stand-up triple to right-center, and Niko Goodrum scored him with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game. After Lynn struck out James McCann, he hit Jose Iglesias and then gave up a two-run home run to JaCoby Jones, who had struck out in his first two at-bats.
Manager Paul Molitor made a mound visit after Lynn hit Iglesias, but it didn't take any convincing from Lynn to stay in the game. Molitor just wanted to check if Lynn's finger was OK. And with Jones coming to the plate, Molitor thought it was a favorable matchup.
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Lynn got behind 3-1 on Iglesias and threw a 93-mph fastball over the plate that Jones hit 389 feet to left field.
"Everything was still there," said Lynn. "I just made one bad pitch that ran into the barrel."
Lynn had been dominant on the mound before that. The Tigers only got two runners in scoring position through the first six innings. This was the same pitcher who was 0-3 with an 8.37 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP in five April starts. And just like when he beat Detroit on May 22, it was a barrage of fastballs and only the occasional breaking ball.
"Boring old Lance Lynn," Lynn said.
For the second consecutive game, the Twins' starting pitcher took the mound in the bottom of the first with a lead. Eddie Rosario, the designated hitter on Thursday, doubled to left and then was driven in three pitches later with an RBI single from Eduardo Escobar. But also just like Wednesday night, Minnesota's bats were silenced the rest of the way.
Molitor was frustrated to see another one of his starting pitchers have an outing get spoiled because of a lack of offense.
"You get these performances, and it's been recurring somewhat," said Molitor. "We've had a lot of good starts. The rotation has given us plenty of innings, plenty of opportunities to find ways to win. Just haven't backed it up on the other side of the ball."
The Twins got five hits off Tigers starter Michael Fulmer (3-5), who held Minnesota to one run over seven innings. The Twins got five runners on base after the first inning, and none made it past second base. In his May 23 start at Target Field, Fulmer kept Minnesota to one run over 5 2/3 innings.
For as excellent as he was through a little more than six innings on Thursday, Lynn had no praise for himself after a loss.
"When it's all said and done, it's a loss," said Lynn. "You have to be better next time. Their starter gave up less than I did, so I didn't do my job today."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Twins had an opportunity in the fifth inning to build on their 1-0 lead with runners on first and second and only one out. The top of the order was coming up with James Dozier, but Fulmer got him to fly out to left. Rosario ended the inning with a popout to third. That was the last time Minnesota had two runners on base at the same time.
Even factoring in his bad start to the season, Lynn has been carving up American League Central opponents this season. Thursday's loss was his first to a division foe. He is now 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 24 strikeouts. Lynn has had six quality starts against AL Central teams.
HE SAID IT
"It's professional baseball. There's pressure every day. It doesn't matter what situation you're in. You just have to make pitches." -- Lynn
The Twins continue their road trip on Friday when they open up a three-game series against the Indians in Cleveland, when Joe Mauer is expected to be back in the lineup. Minnesota will have Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45 ERA) on the mound. The Indians will counter with ace Corey Kluber (10-2, 1.99 ERA), who has pitched into the seventh in all but two of his 14 starts this year. First pitch is 6:10 p.m. CT.