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Cruz homers in 4th straight as Twins rout Tigers

Minnesota scores 12 runs on 17 hits; Odorizzi's ERA at AL-best 1.92
June 9, 2019

DETROIT -- Among all the offensive production from the Twins’ bats Sunday afternoon was what felt like another routine outing for Nelson Cruz, especially given the opponent. Cruz, who finished 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs, helped jumpstart Minnesota’s offense from the get-go en route to a 12-2

DETROIT -- Among all the offensive production from the Twins’ bats Sunday afternoon was what felt like another routine outing for Nelson Cruz, especially given the opponent.

Cruz, who finished 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs, helped jumpstart Minnesota’s offense from the get-go en route to a 12-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park. The American League Central-leading Twins finished their 10-game road swing with a 6-4 record.

Box score

“It was a very good road trip for us. We came into today's game with a chance to have a good winning trip,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You get some good positive feelings getting off the road and getting back home. … We got one of those good offensive days from our guys, up and down the lineup in basically every single spot, and we got nice contributions from everyone."

The win was backed by another great outing from AL Cy Young Award hopeful Jake Odorizzi (9-2), who held the Tigers to a run and five hits across six innings, collecting eight strikeouts along the way. The right-hander’s lone blemish came in the first inning after giving up a leadoff walk to Niko Goodrum, followed by a single to Christin Stewart, which advanced Goodrum to third. Odorizzi’s lone run came in on a double-play fielder’s choice after Stewart’s single.

Over his last 10 starts spanning 59 innings, Odorizzi is 9-0 with a 1.07 ERA, 63 strikeouts and 13 walks. The start lowered his season ERA to 1.92, the best in the AL.

“It’s nice to have a lead, absolutely,” Odorizzi said. “It happened really quickly and then to keep adding on, I think that’s what was the most important thing."

The 38-year-old Cruz helped the Twins open the game with a 3-0 lead in the first. Tigers starter Ryan Carpenter (1-3) surrendered back-to-back hits -- a leadoff single to Jorge Polanco and an RBI double to Mitch Garver -- before Cruz pulled a 2-2 fastball 369 feet into the left-field stands for the veteran’s 11th long ball of the season.

“It was just a good at-bat,” Cruz said. "Definitely found a way to battle and stay in the fight.”

The home run marked Cruz’s fourth in four games since being activated from the injured list on Monday. It was also his 28th against the Tigers and 17th at Comerica Park, including postseason play. Accounting for Cruz’s homers in the playoffs, he has hit more home runs against only two other teams -- the A’s (34) and Angels (50).

“He's incredibly strong but he has a really, really direct path to the ball,” Baldelli said of Cruz. “He's just a good hitter who just happens to be really strong. When you add those things together, you end up with one of the best hitters we've seen, one of the best hitters of our generation.”

The Twins roughed Carpenter up for five more runs in the fourth, when they sent 10 men to the plate. Miguel Sano led the frame off with a first-pitch solo shot for his sixth homer of the season, followed by back-to-back singles from Ehire Adrianza and Byron Buxton. Adrianza scored on a sac fly from Polanco and, after walking Garver, Carpenter was chased on an RBI single from Eddie Rosario that plated Buxton. Austin Adams was called in to relieve Carpenter, but was tagged for a two-run double and a walk before striking out Sano to end the Tigers’ nightmarish inning.

Carpenter was charged with eight runs and 10 hits through only 3 2/3 innings. He also walked one and had one strikeout.

Buxton hit a two-run shot in the sixth for his eighth homer of the year. In the seventh, Rosario hit his 19th homer to put the Twins up 12-1, tying him with the Yankees' Gary Sanchez for the AL lead. The home run also gave Rosario 52 RBIs, tying him with White Sox slugger Jose Abreu for the AL lead.

Rosario’s seventh-inning blast put the exclamation point on the four-homer, 17-hit afternoon. The barrage also gives the Twins a Major League-best 125 homers, tying the franchise record for most prior to the All-Star break. The record is also held by the 1964 squad but took 81 games to accomplish.

“We are an aggressive team,” Cruz said. “It shows we were able to keep the ball where we’re supposed to. Overall, the whole lineup, it was very exciting to watch. The whole lineup just gave good at-bats and stuck with pitchers.”

If home runs keep happening at the current pace, Minnesota is on track to hit 311. But the most important thing, according to Baldelli, is ending the road trip with a high note.

“To have one game at the end that was a slightly lower-stress environment, it's actually nice for our guys because they have kind of been locked in every game we have played,” Baldelli said. “So it was certainly a good way to end the trip.”