Detroit Tigers come alive in 8th inning for 4-3 win over Minnesota Twins to split series

Another game, another comeback win.

The Detroit Tigers continue to struggle in the run-scoring department, especially throughout the early innings, but the ongoing issue hasn't deterred the never-quit effort from the hitters throughout the lineup. It was on display again in Sunday's eighth inning, as the Tigers scored four runs to suddenly take the lead.

Those four runs were just enough for the Tigers to beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, in Sunday's series finale at Comerica Park. Spencer Torkelson drove in the game-winning run with a bloop single to shallow right-center field.

The Tigers and Twins, projected to finish at the top of the American League Central, split the four-game set.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez warms up prior to an at bat during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on April 14, 2024, in Detroit, Michigan.
Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez warms up prior to an at bat during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on April 14, 2024, in Detroit, Michigan.

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The Tigers (9-6) once again received a solid performance from their starting pitcher, a positive trend this season. Right-hander Jack Flaherty allowed three runs on six hits and two walks with eight strikeouts across 6⅓ innings, throwing 100 pitches.

Flaherty threw 47 pitches in the first two innings, in which he gave up two of the three runs, then he settled down to throw just 53 pitches over his final 4⅓ innings.

The Tigers never had a breakthrough on offense against Twins right-hander Bailey Ober, who tossed six-plus scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He allowed just three hits and didn't walk any batters in his 84-pitch outing.

The breakthrough happened in the eighth inning, beginning with Javier Báez's solo home run off left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.

The homer to left field marked Báez's first of the season.

Back-to-back singles from Carson Kelly and Riley Greene kept the pressure on the Twins and led to a pitching change. Mark Canha met right-handed reliever Griffin Jax with a two-run double that deflected off third baseman Kyle Famer, and because of the deflection, the ball rolled into the left-field corner.

It should have been ruled an error.

Still, Canha's double knotted the score at 3-3, and he advanced to third base on the unnecessary throw home from the left fielder.

Torkelson put the Tigers in front, 4-3, with his single off Jax's down-and-away sweeper. The sweeper ended up outside of the strike zone, but Torkelson made contact. He hit the ball with a 62.1 mph exit velocity, and once the ball dropped in for a bloop single, Canha scored from third base.

Right-handed reliever Jason Foley walked Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but he dispatched Ryan Jeffers to finish the game.

Foley notched his fourth save in as many chances.

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Jack Flaherty battles

Flaherty wasn't perfect.

But he was pretty good in his third start of the season.

He worked around two singles in the first inning, but he didn't have the same luck in the second inning. He opened the second inning with a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and with two outs, Famer singled and Julien walked. Those three batters loaded the bases for Jeffers.

Jeffers delivered a two-run single for a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

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Flaherty retired all three batters in the third inning, and he sent down three of four batters in the fourth inning. The only blemish in those innings: Christian Vázquez hit a hanging slider to left-center field for a solo home run.

The homer put the Twins ahead, 3-0.

Flaherty hit the first batter he faced in the seventh inning, and after striking out Julien, the Tigers replaced him with right-handed reliever Will Vest. The runner was stranded by Vest with back-to-back outs to complete the seventh.

As for Flaherty, he generated 16 whiffs (on 45 swings) with five fastballs, seven sliders and four knuckle curves. His fastball averaged 94.1 mph and maxed out at 96.9 mph.

Before the comeback

Before the eighth inning, the Tigers showed signs of life in the seventh inning.

Torkelson, who still hasn't hit a home run, hammered Ober's 10th pitch — an up-and-in fastball — for a double to left field. The leadoff extra-base hit chased Ober. Right-handed reliever Brock Stewart replaced Ober, only to walk Kerry Carpenter on five pitches.

The next batter, Colt Keith, grounded into a force out, leaving runners at first base and second base with one out. The Tigers failed to score a single run because Gio Urshela grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Urshela hit a bouncer back to Stewart.

Before the seventh, Greene hit a leadoff double in the first inning and Urshela hit a single in the second inning. After that, the Tigers didn't get another baserunner until Torkelson's double.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him @EvanPetzold.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Javier Báez sparks comeback as Detroit Tigers beat Minnesota Twins 4-3