By Joe Oberle, The Sports Xchange
MINNEAPOLIS - On another freezing cold day at Target Field, when the Minnesota Twins' bats hibernated much of the game, patience paid off for the team and its fans as the Twins broke through in the ninth inning for an exciting win Wednesday.
Eduardo Escobar's two-run, ninth-inning double lifted the Twins to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers, whose closer-by-committee approach once again failed.
"We got some big hits with some big at-bats at the end, which was a lot of fun for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "To get a win here at home for the people that braved this cold and stayed out there, it was really exciting."
Trevor Plouffe drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth against Tigers right-hander Joaquin Benoit, who was then replaced by left-hander Phil Coke (0-1). After a flyout, Brian Dozier singled, advancing pinch runner Jamey Carroll to third base.
Escobar then doubled to left-center, scoring both runners.
"I was preparing myself for one swing and I got a fastball right down the middle," Escobar said. "First pitch."
The Twins entered the inning with just three hits, but their bats woke up in time for the win.
Glen Perkins (1-0) threw a scoreless inning to earn the win. The Twins evened the season-opening series at a game apiece heading into Thursday's final game of the series.
Wednesday's starting pitchers, Detroit's Anibal Sanchez and Minnesota's Kevin Correia, were effective.
"I thought both starters were terrific," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's two starting pitchers that shut ‘em out for five innings. That's pretty good."
Sanchez allowed only two hits in his five scoreless innings, striking out five. Correia pitched seven innings, scattered seven hits and gave up two runs.
"I thought Sanchez did a terrific job," said Leyland. "I thought he had good stuff. A little off with his control early but he settled in and did a terrific job."
Pitching for his first time in a Twins uniform and in the American League, Correia put together seven strong innings of work, even though he didn't end up with the win.
"I could've got pinch-hit for in my other league," Correia said. "In one of those games where you're down 2-0, I probably would've got pinch-hit for in the fifth or sixth, so it's nice to have that leeway in order to go back out there and not have to worry about getting pinch-hit for. Obviously we came up big there at the end of the game."
Detroit led 2-0 before the Twins scored a run in the seventh on another rally that began with a Plouffe walk. The Minnesota third baseman stole second, then scored on pinch hitter Wilkin Ramirez's double down the right field line against right-hander Brayan Villarreal, who replaced lefty Darin Downs with one out.
The Tigers jumped in front with single runs in the third and fifth innings.
Correia retired the first two batters in the third before walking Austin Jackson. Torii Hunter followed with a single to right, and Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball that squirted between third and short to score Jackson.
Detroit tacked on another run in the fifth. Omar Infante singled, and Hunter and Cabrera got their second hits of the game, Cabrera collecting his second RBI.
"That guy's a tough out," Correia said about Cabrera.
"He's the best hitter in the world. He didn't hit the ball hard off of me. He's just so good. That's what he's trying to do is hit it where he hit it and get those RBIs. Hopefully in the future I can make those same pitches and make him hit it to somebody."
NOTES: After an Opening Day temperature of 35 degrees, the Tigers and Twins got a break in Game 2 at Target Field. It was a balmy 46 degrees at first pitch Wednesday. ... Hunter's two hits leave him 10 shy of the 2,000 mark. ... The Twins announced that RHP Colt De Vries' first start was pushed back to Sunday after tightness returned to his forearm. RHP Vance Worley will make his second start of the season Saturday against the Orioles in Baltimore.