Tigers 4, Twins 3
DETROIT (AP)—Brandon Inge is hoping to close out a rough first month of the season with a flourish.
Inge entered the game hitting .122, but had three hits, including the winning drive into the left-field stands off Jesse Crain (1-2) in the ninth.
“April has just been brutal for me, so I’ve just wanted May to get here as soon as possible,” he said. “The strange thing is that I’ve had a lot of days where I felt great and couldn’t get a hit. Today, I wasn’t feeling it, and I get three hits, including a walkoff.”
Inge wasn’t sure his ninth-inning drive had enough to get out.
“I was blowing and yelling for it to go,” he said. “Vance Wilson told me he was in the bullpen trying to push the fence closer to home.”
Todd Jones (1-1), the third Tigers pitcher, got the win with a perfect ninth inning.
“That’s a very good team over there—they don’t get nearly the credit they deserve,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We won today by playing the way we play—we pitched good and we hit the ball out of the park. We aren’t about speed.”
The loss ended Minnesota’s three-game winning streak.
“That was a good ballgame,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s kind of what you expect from the Tigers. Both teams battled, and it just came down to who was going to get the big hit. They got it, but it was still a good series for us.”
Johan Santana gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings for Minnesota. The AL Cy Young Award winner allowed two homers for the first time this season.
“They battled every single at-bat and made me throw a lot of pitches,” Santana said. “I made a couple mistakes—a couple sliders that didn’t break.”
Detroit took a 2-0 lead on Magglio Ordonez’s two-run homer in the third, but Minnesota tied it in the next inning when Torii Hunter and Mike Redmond singled before Jason Kubel’s two-run double off Mike Maroth.
Marcus Thames led off the fourth with a long homer to left off Santana, but Hunter matched him with a shot deep into the left-field stands in the top of the sixth.
Maroth allowed three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“That was a good outing, because I was able to get deeper into the game,” Maroth said. “I’ve been working on my mechanics, and I was pleased with what I did today.”
“I was worried for a second after the walk, especially with a great hitter coming up, but I know I can get outs in those situations,” he said. “I knew I had the fastball going where I wanted, and I still have my confidence.”
New Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, received a standing ovation when he threw out the first pitch. … Tigers 1B Sean Casey (flulike symptoms) sat out the game. Casey was a teammate of Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock, who was killed in an auto accident Sunday, in 2004 with Cincinnati. Cory Lidle, who died in a 2006 plane crash, also played for the Reds in 2004. … Ordonez is hitting .429 (15-for-35) lifetime against Santana with four homers.