DETROIT -- The Twins appeared well on their way to extending their season-long win streak to seven games, leading by five runs in the seventh behind a bullpen that had posted a Major League-best 1.01 ERA since closer Brandon Kintzler was traded to the Nationals on July 31.
But the Tigers clawed their way back with a run in the seventh, three more in the eighth and then won the game, 12-11, on a walk-off two-run homer from Justin Upton off co-closer Matt Belisle, who was attempting his first four-out save. Belisle was far from the only culprit in what was arguably Minnesota's toughest loss of the year, but he shouldered the blame after the game that saw the Twins rack up 19 hits, but still lose.
"It's about as bad a taste as you want to put in your mouth, I guess, especially when the team is rolling and you've got them where you want them," Belisle said. "You never want to fail, so to speak, but tonight that's on me. That's tough to swallow, but I'm tougher than the situation, so that's OK."
Detroit's rally began innocently enough with a sacrifice fly in the seventh off Dillon Gee before a double play overturned by replay proved costly in the eighth. Third baseman Miguel Sano looked home before throwing to second, allowing catcher James McCann to reach on an RBI fielder's choice. Jose Iglesias followed with a two-run homer off Trevor Hildenberger to make it a one-run game.
Molitor went to Belisle, who struck out Ian Kinsler to end the inning, but after a long top of the ninth that saw the Twins leave the bases loaded with Sano striking out, Belisle went back out to close it out. Michael Mahtook opened with a bloop single into right-center before Belisle left a 2-1 fastball over the plate that Upton deposited a projected 403 feet to left.
"Nice little fastball teed up right down the middle," Belisle said. "It's a pretty tough pitch to get away with in the big leagues. I take full accountability for that tonight, and for this loss. You've just got to make better pitches. Sometimes you get away with them, sometimes you don't."
The clubhouse after the game, however, didn't seem too dejected despite the tough defeat, as players such as Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, Joe Mauer and Belisle said they're still confident they'll bounce back because resiliency has been their main trait this season.
"We ride the roller coaster well," Belisle said. "There will be more roller coasters, and lately we've been pretty much on a steamroller. Sometimes that doesn't last too long. The Tigers did a good job of doing what they needed to do, and we kind of faltered a little bit. But guess what? We've got a rubber game tomorrow."