Twins 16, Tigers 4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Perhaps it was the pink bats—or a shuffled lineup, or the rookie on the mound for the other team.
Hunter homered twice and drove in a career-high seven runs, and the Twins ended a four-game losing streak with a 16-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday night.
“That’s something that ought to get any team rolling,” Hunter said.
Ruining Tigers emergency starter Virgil Vasquez’s major league debut and racking up season highs in runs, hits (22) and homers (four), Minnesota salvaged the last game of this series and finished 3-6 on its homestand. The Twins won for only the fourth time in their last 13 games.
“You could see the weight of the world going off these guys’ shoulders,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, who brought his sore knee back to the dugout after surgery forced him to monitor the previous two games from his office.
Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs, Mike Redmond went deep, too, and Justin Morneau scored after all three of his hits. The defending AL Central champion Twins reached their highest run total in nearly a year since a 16-10 victory at Milwaukee last May 20.
“Nobody in here has been frustrated. We all know we were capable of this. It just hadn’t happened yet,” said Redmond, Minnesota’s backup catcher who hadn’t homered since July 6, 2005.
Starter Boof Bonser (1-1) gave up six hits, four runs and three walks in five innings. He struck out six and stopped a string of five straight no-decisions, thanks to more support than he could ever remember.
Detroit was due for one of these, having gone 11-1 since losing to Minnesota at home on April 28. Manager Jim Leyland, clearly tired of watching his pitchers issue seven walks during a game that lasted nearly 3 1/2 hours, kept his postgame remarks to three sentences.
Here was the last one: “That was a long night, and that’s all I got for you,” he said, walking away.
Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run homer against Bonser in the first, and Curtis Granderson’s double in the second kept them within 4-3. But by the time Placido Polanco’s groundout drove in Brandon Inge in the fifth, the Twins were in control with a 8-4 lead.
Vasquez, leading Triple-A Toledo with a 4-2 record, 2.88 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 40-plus innings, was recalled before the game. He was rewarded Jeremy Bonderman’s rotation spot when the right-hander developed a cut on his middle finger and was scratched from Sunday’s start.
Bonderman is expected back for Friday night’s game, so Vasquez had a ticket waiting for him back to the Mud Hens. And though Minnesota’s bats have been quiet this month, the 24-year-old right-hander was quickly reminded that this wasn’t the International League.
“I got some balls up in the zone and didn’t pitch with what got me here,” Vasquez said. “I learned a lesson, and I’ll go back and hopefully be better.”
The seventh-round pick in Detroit’s 2003 draft, Vasquez surrendered nine hits, two walks and a hit batter with just one strikeout. He left with a 6-3 deficit.
The first batter Vasquez faced, Luis Castillo, greeted him with a triple and scored on Jason Bartlett’s single. Morneau, batting in the cleanup spot for only the fourth time this year, singled to send Bartlett to second and bring Leyland out for a brief mound visit.
Hunter promptly hit Vasquez’s next pitch over the center-field wall to put the Twins up 4-2.
“Bottom of the first, everything was kind of numb,” Vasquez said. “Then Torii got me.”
Jason Grilli also gave up a two-run double to Hunter in the fourth and an RBI double to Cuddyer in the fifth.
Wil Ledezma was roughed up in the seventh when Hunter hit a two-run shot and Redmond added a solo homer. Then Jose Mesa gave up three more in the eighth.
Cuddyer and Hunter were two of the Twins who used pink bats as part of baseball’s breast cancer awareness. … Leyland announced that LH Tim Byrdak would be brought up from the minors to join the bullpen and take Vasquez’s roster spot. … Before the game, Leyland said that he thought LHP Kenny Rogers would return to the rotation for the Tigers sooner than expected. Rogers, who was originally ruled out until at least the All-Star break, had surgery to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and repair arteries in the joint. … Coming into the game, the Twins had been outscored 24-12 in the first inning this year.