Participation is a lot more fun.
Crede capped another Twins rally with a two-run, two-out single in a six-run seventh inning. Minnesota overcame a five-run deficit and Justin Verlander’s(notes) career-high 13 strikeouts, completing a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 6-5 victory Thursday.
“They just play well here, and we’ve been able to continue that this year,” said Crede, who signed with Minnesota in February after back problems ended his tenure with the rival Chicago White Sox.
His blooper into shallow center against struggling reliever Zach Miner(notes), who loaded the bases with a walk to Michael Cuddyer(notes), put the Twins ahead about 14 1/2 hours after his grand slam in the 13th ended Wednesday night’s game.
The Twins were so pesky with bunts, steals and high choppers in recent seasons that Crede’s old manager, Ozzie Guillen, famously dubbed them “The Piranhas.” But Crede’s arrival, Cuddyer’s return from injuries, Jason Kubel’s(notes) development and Joe Mauer’s(notes) surge this month have not only deepened the lineup but made it more powerful.
They’re drawing more walks, too, which has clearly helped fuel these comebacks.
“You’re not totally reliant on yourself to get the job done. You can rely on the guy hitting behind you and the guy hitting behind him, which alleviates a lot of the pressure that you put on yourself,” Cuddyer said.
Verlander, who has struck out 11 or more in three straight starts, found that out.
He was cruising with a 5-0 lead and fanned Crede on a high heater to start the seventh, but he needed 122 pitches to get through 6 1-3 innings and was removed for Bobby Seay(notes) (0-1) after a single and a walk.
Matt Tolbert’s(notes) walk forced in the first run, Mauer knocked in another with a grounder and Justin Morneau(notes) cut the lead to 5-3 on a sharp single. Kubel’s double pulled Minnesota within one, prompting Tigers manager Jim Leyland to summon Miner, who has walked nine in his last 13 innings.
“Shame to lose that game. Need eight outs, and we can’t get them,” said Leyland, who called Verlander’s performance “tremendous.”
Seay took the blame.
“Command was terrible. Pitch selection was brutal. I pretty much had nothing,” he said.
Leyland didn’t want to discredit the Twins, but he felt like the bullpen gave the game away.
“You give good teams opportunities, and it’s going to bury you,” the manager said.
After a five-run, two-out rally by the Tigers in the sixth against starter Scott Baker(notes), Minnesota’s bullpen held up. Craig Breslow(notes) (1-1) got five outs for his first major league victory in 90 appearances, Matt Guerrier(notes) got one and Joe Nathan(notes) notched his sixth save with a perfect ninth.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who drew his first ejection of the season for arguing Cuddyer was hit by a pitch, was excited for Breslow. He was frustrated by Baker’s pitch selection in the sixth, though. Two starts ago, Baker took a no-hitter into the seventh before similarly unraveling and then taking the loss.
“He’s got to take a step back, regroup, and make a pitch,” Gardenhire said. “That’s all it is: making a pitch. He’s got great stuff.”
Baker insisted he hasn’t lost focus, or that his selection was a problem. Still, he was rather sullen after the game—and clearly relieved by the rally.
“I think we knew if we could get to their bullpen, we could do exactly what we did. It’s always nice when the guys pick you up like that,” Baker said.
Oops: Verlander left the stadium early and went to bed Wednesday believing the Tigers had won, after failing to find the game on TV back at his hotel and being misinformed of the final score by the front desk. He didn’t find out the defeat until catching a cab with teammate Curtis Granderson(notes) two hours before Thursday’s game. … Nathan is 27 for 27 in career save chances against Detroit. … Gerald Laird(notes) took over in the seventh for C Dane Sardinha(notes), who hurt his right arm. Leyland said Sardinha was fine. Laird, Sardinha and injured backup Matt Treanor(notes) are batting a combined .159 this season.