Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the Texas Rangers putting up 30 runs in one game against the Baltimore Orioles, so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised that a team turned back the clock and lit up the scoreboard again. Then again, maybe we should be surprised, because who would have ever wagered on the Minnesota Twins scoring 20 runs in a game this season, let alone against the pitching-rich Detroit Tigers?
Not many, probably, but baseball cares nothing about odds or what's expected. Anything can happen on any given day, and on Friday Minnesota's offense went bonkers in a 20-6 victory.
Of course, the best part for fans who weren't rooting for Detroit came in the eighth inning when manager Brad Ausmus turned to shortstop Andrew Romine to provide some relief for his relief pitchers.
Romine, 29, had never pitched during his five-year MLB career, and his lack of experience was evident after the first three batters he faced. After Kennys Vargas greeted him with a double, Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe clubbed back-to-back home runs to give Minnesota an even 20 and make a long night even longer for Ausmus.
''This was a bad game, embarrassing really,'' Ausmus said. ''There's not much to say.''
Oh, but there is, because Romine provided a reprieve by rebounding and striking out All-Star Kurt Suzuki looking with an 89-mph fastball and then completing his 27-pitch inning without allowing another run.
"He took one for the team," Ausmus said. "He picked us up, really. Didn't really matter how he pitched, we just were hoping that he could get through three outs without an injury or overextending himself."
Hey, it's not much to hang their hat on, but one can't think about one loss for too long.
''Every team goes through a few of these games,'' Ausmus said. ''It always stings a little more when you're fighting in the pennant race at the end of August.''
A valid point. And there's obviously real reason for concern now as Detroit attempts to get its rotation healthy and its bullpen functional.
Minnesota jumped on rookie Robbie Ray — who would be nowhere near Detroit's rotation if not for injuries to Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez — for six runs in the second inning, including a pair of two-run homers from Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana. After Detroit posted a four-spot in the fifth to make it interesting again, the Twins clobbered relievers Jim Johnson and Ian Krol to the tune of nine runs in the sixth.
Five of the runs were actually unearned thanks to errors by Ian Kinsler and Nick Castellanos, but each reliever hurt his own cause by walking two. In fact, of the eight Detroit pitchers used on Friday, only Romine, the infielder, didn't issue a walk.
That might be enough to keep Ausmus awake all night, because there's no quick fix coming on Saturday.
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