Granderson, Ordonez power Tigers past Twins 6-4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Asked about the secret behind this year’s surprising success, the young Minnesota Twins have often praised their short memories following disappointing defeats.
With 20 games left in the season, the bad stuff is becoming harder to block out.
“They’ve been so good for so long. It’s the last thing you expect,” starter Scott Baker said. “Guys are fighting it right now. That’s OK. They’ll endure and they’ll persevere and they’ll get through it.”
After relievers took six of the nine losses on their 14-game road trip that ended this week, the Twins watched yet another late lead vanish when manager Ron Gardenhire walked to the mound to replace Baker with one out and one on in the eighth.
Granderson, 0-for-7 with four strikeouts previously in his career against lefty Dennys Reyes, drove a 1-1 hanging slider into the folded football seats above right field to tie it at 4.
Then Matt Guerrier (6-7) gave up a single to Placido Polanco—who was 2-for-11 coming in against the right-hander—before Ordonez hit a long drive into the left-field seats on a 2-1 pitch that had too much of the plate. Ordonez had just one hit in 11 prior at-bats against Guerrier.
“We should be able to go in there and keep the lead,” Guerrier said.
But Joe Mauer struck out and Justin Morneau lined out to second base, sticking Minnesota—which started the day 1 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the AL Central—with its eighth defeat in 71 situations this season when leading after seven innings.
The bullpen hasn’t been a problem during Gardenhire’s tenure, which started in 2002, but these tough losses have taken a toll.
“We’ve tried everything, and we’re still trying everything,” Gardenhire said. “I think we’ve been mixing it up as much as you can mix it up. It’s just got to get done.”
Baker was at his best, facing the minimum through three and marching into the eighth ahead 4-2. He walked four, but gave up only four hits, struck out five and received a raucous ovation when he headed to the dugout.
The crowd, announced at 42,606, the third-largest at the Metrodome this year, quickly turned. Fans booed after both homers, obviously frustrated by the critical failure of the bullpen in a season that has otherwise been a pleasant surprise.
“Do you want to just turn it in, or continue to finish up strong and continue to show that this team has great ability to contend versus anybody in our division, or any division?” Granderson said. “That’s the way we are looking at it: Try to finish up as best we can and finish up on a high note.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland, his team stuck in fourth place after such high hopes in the spring, was proud.
“I am so thrilled that we won that game, because that is one of those nightmare games at the Metrodome,” Leyland said. “I have seen those a thousand times.”
Justin Verlander followed his worst start of the year with more control problems, walking four in 5 2-3 innings for Detroit. He threw 114 pitches, allowing eight hits and four runs.
Morneau and Jason Kubel hit consecutive doubles in the third to make it 2-0, and Carlos Gomez smacked a double down the line with the bases loaded to stretch the lead to four. Brian Buscher was thrown out trying to score from first.
“I felt like I made some progress on some of the things I’m working on,” Verlander said. “I think I was kind of in and out. It’s not easy to make adjustments midseason like that. I felt like I was able to take some positive steps forward.”
About a half-hour after the game, singer Matthew West began warming up on the field for a concert. The words to one tune that resonated from the stage during the sound check went like this: “It’s been a bad day. You’ve been looking back. And all you can see is everything you wish you could take back.”
Fitting for the Twins.
“You can’t come tomorrow and think about today,” Reyes said. “It hurts right now a lot, but that’s part of the game. You have to make pitches. You have to hit your spots. I didn’t today, and I paid for it.”
The Tigers have decided to skip the next start for 43-year-old Kenny Rogers, who is fighting some pain in his hip. He’ll be replaced Tuesday against Oakland by Nate Robertson, who was moved to the bullpen three weeks ago. Rogers is expected to return to the rotation next weekend after the extra rest. … Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer took batting practice before the game and will have his broken foot re-evaluated on Tuesday. … Leyland also said he hoped Dontrelle Willis and Freddy Garcia would be able to start before the season is over. They’ll pitch in another simulated game on Monday. … Baker has had six no-decisions in his last eight starts and 12 this year in 25 appearances. His record stayed at 8-4. … Miguel Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a run-scoring single in the seventh, giving him 112 RBIs for Detroit.