Tigers 9, Twins 8

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DETROIT (AP)—Even the ever-optimistic Alan Trammell was close to giving up on his Detroit Tigers.

“I was actually going to take a couple guys out,” Trammell acknowledged.

Detroit’s manager decided otherwise and the Tigers staved off a historic defeat with a startling rally, coming from eight runs down to beat Minnesota 9-8 on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night.

The Tigers were in danger of matching the modern major league record of 120 losses set by the expansion 1962 New York Mets (40-120) before pulling off their biggest comeback in 38 years.

Detroit (42-119) now will try to avoid tying the post-1900 record for losses when it finishes the season Sunday against the Twins.

Mike Maroth, 8-21 and the first pitcher to lose 20 games in nearly a quarter-century, will start for the Tigers against Kyle Lohse.

“We’re not the worst team in baseball, no matter what,” Carlos Pena said. “We’re going to have a better winning percentage than the Mets, and we won’t beat their record. You’ve got to compare apples with apples, not apples with oranges, OK? They played 160 games and we’ll play 162.”

Trailing 8-0 in the fifth, the Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the inning and three more in the seventh to make it 8-4, prompting Trammell to keep his best players in the game.

The scrappy Tigers scored four more in the eighth to make it 8-all.

In the ninth, Alex Sanchez walked with one out and stole two bases. Warren Morris then struck out on a wild pitch from Jesse Orosco (1-1) as the ball went to the backstop.

Sanchez scored standing up as the Tigers streamed from the dugout and the sparse crowd cheered and danced.

“At first, I thought it was a foul ball, but everyone in the dugout was yelling for me to go, so I took off,” Sanchez said. “As soon as I started running, I knew we were going to win the game. That’s when I put my arms in the air.

“We’ve all pulled together and we are trying to prevent this from happening, but we still have to win one more game.”

It was the Tigers’ largest comeback since June 20, 1965, when they trailed Kansas City 8-0 in the first game of a doubleheader before winning 12-8, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

After a season filled with losing under Trammell, the Tigers suddenly have turned tough—just when it seemed they would own a record that nobody wanted.

Detroit won for the fourth time in five games. This victory came against the AL Central champion Twins, who started eight regulars but pulled all of them before the eighth inning.

“We’re not out to try to make them break any records, but we’re just trying to take care of ourselves,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Our goal is not to get anybody hurt, but also play the games.”

Brad Radke tuned up for his start in Game 2 of the playoffs against New York at Yankee Stadium, allowing one run and eight hits over five innings.

The crowd at Comerica Park was announced as 14,277, but only about 5,000 appeared to be in the stands in the late innings. The promise of a postgame fireworks show certainly kept some fans in the seats.

“People really don’t seem to care because they’ve had enough,” fan Dan Helvey said. “So be it. It’s football season so it’s blase.”

Still, the fans who showed up were spirited before the comeback. They even did the Wave, and no boos were heard.

And the fans who stayed until the end were rewarded with a real treat.

The Twins threatened to take the lead in the ninth after Justin Morneau led off with a double. With the crowd on its feet—again—reliever Fernando Rodney (1-3) struck out Rob Bowen to end the inning and strand Morneau at third base.

Catcher Brandon Inge flipped the baseball into the stands over the dugout.

Sanchez finished with four stolen bases, and his last two set up the winning run.

Minnesota took the lead right from the beginning, getting a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Doug Mientkiewicz off Gary Knotts.

The Twins added four more with five straight hits in the fourth, highlighted by RBI doubles from Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski.

Jacque Jones hit a solo homer and Michael Ryan had a two-run shot in the fifth that made it 8-0.

The Tigers began their comeback in the fifth on Craig Monroe’s RBI single off Radke.

Pena hit a two-run single in a three-run seventh as Detroit pulled to 8-4.

Then, the Tigers struck for four runs in the eighth to tie it at 8.

After Juan Rincon walked two of the first three batters in the inning, J.C. Romero walked two straight batters to force home a run.

Monroe hit an RBI single and Pena followed by grounding a tying, two-runsingle past diving second baseman Alex Prieto.

Notes

Mientkiewicz played after missing three games with a sore left wrist. … Radke walked Inge in the fourth, snapping a streak of 132 batters without awalk.

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