Tigers 5, Twins 4, 11 innings
Halter hit a two-out, solo home run in the 11th inning and the suddenly successful Tigers snapped Minnesota’s 11-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory Thursday night.
With their third straight win, the Tigers would have to lose their final three games of the season to break the post-1900 record of 120 defeats by the 1962 New York Mets.
“A walkoff home run in the situation we’re in right now is big,” said Halter, whose head was cut by a teammate during the raucous celebration. “We’ve got to win a couple games and we won’t get the record.
“When you win, you’re supposed to celebrate.”
The Tigers (41-118) set the AL record for losses on Monday night with their 10th consecutive setback. Since then, they have not lost.
Detroit has won three straight for the first time since winning the final three of a four-game series against Cleveland from Sept. 2-4.
Halter was also instrumental in that streak, hitting an 11th-inning, game-winning homer against the Indians on Sept. 3.
Minnesota, which clinched its second straight AL Central title Tuesday, had just two of its regulars—Matthew LeCroy and Luis Rivas—in the lineup and they didn’t play the entire game. LeCroy was replaced in the sixth, and Rivas came out the next inning.
Manager Ron Gardenhire, who plans to “sprinkle in” his regulars over the final three games of the season, also pulled Johan Santana after he pitched five shutout innings.
Gardenhire said he did not consider putting some of his key players in the game.
“We had the guys in the game that we wanted,” he said. “Our young guys can play and they deserve to get these at-bats. I’m not going to kill someone by putting them in when it is this cold when they have been sitting around all night. Our guys got some rest, and they needed it. This has been a long, tough season.”
Alan Trammell managed the Tigers after missing the previous two games to attend his mother’s funeral in San Diego.
“Was it difficult to come back? Heck yes, it was,” Trammell said. “My mind is still wandering.”
The Tigers came back from a 1-0 deficit with a three-run seventh. After they blew their lead in the eighth, Craig Monroe hit a solo homer off Juan Rincon in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 4.
Justin Morneau gave the Twins a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer in a three-run eighth.
Detroit’s Matt Anderson, who relieved Nate Robertson after he gave up one run in seven innings, walked two batters and got only one out in the eighth. Rob Bowen hit a sacrifice fly against Fernando Rodney, who also gave up a 439-foot homer to Morneau.
Santana, who will start Game 1 of the AL division series against the New York Yankees, is 8-0 over his last 12 starts. He gave up just two hits and one walk while striking out three Thursday.
Minnesota’s Lew Ford singled and scored on LeCroy’s single in the third.
Just 9,296 fans came to Comerica Park for the game, but those who showed up on the cool night rose to their feet when Santiago gave the Tigers the lead inthe eighth and did again after the win.
Bowen’s sacrifice fly was his first major league RBI. … Morneau’shomer was the longest at Comerica Park this season.