Depleted Twins fall to Tigers
By Larry Lage, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT -- The last-place Minnesota Twins can't catch a break.
Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the third and Rick Porcello pitched into the seventh inning, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 4-2 win over Minnesota.
As if a 10th loss in 12 games wasn't enough for the banged-up Twins, they're about to add another player to the disabled list.
On a day Minnesota made a good-news announcement -- Joe Mauer is scheduled to catch three innings Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla. -- the team had another setback. Jim Thome left in the sixth inning after straining his left quadriceps.
Minnesota outfielder Jason Kubel missed his second straight game with a sprained left foot and he or Thome will be the latest to join the long list of players on the disabled list.
"We'll have to make a decision between Kubel and Thome," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We can't play two down, and we can't just go day-to-day with everyone."
The two-time defending AL Central champion Twins, who have won six division titles since 2002, are used to having a good team.
Not this year, sinking to 17-37 for the worst record in baseball.
Minnesota had chances to come back from a 4-0 deficit in Detroit.
Drew Butera hit a two-run homer in the seventh to pull the Twins within two, but they failed to take advantage of loading the bases later in the inning.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde started the ninth by walking pinch-hitter Matt Tolbert on five pitches, bringing the top of the order up. He got Denard Span to ground out, struck out Alexi Casilla on a fouled bunt attempt, intentionally walked Justin Morneau and got Michael Cuddyer out on a chopper to third baseman Brandon Inge.
Gardenhire was dumbfounded by Casilla's decision to attempt a bunt with two strikes.
"Can you say 'hemorrhoid' on TV? Because that's what I think of that play," Gardenhire said. "I guess calling it a loose-cannon play is a better phrase."
After getting Casilla for the second out, Detroit manager Jim Leyland chose to put Morneau on base to bring Cuddyer -- the potential go-ahead run -- to the plate.
"I didn't want Morneau to hit a two-run homer to tie it up," Leyland said. "I was going for the win."
The Tigers have earned a lot of those lately against Minnesota.
Detroit has won nine straight against the Twins, dating to late last season, its longest winning streak against them since taking nine consecutive games during the 1949 and 1950 seasons, when they were the Washington Senators.
"It's always nice to beat the Twins," said Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who had a two-out single in the second.
Minnesota's Scott Baker (2-4) allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings.
"It was one bad inning again," Gardenhire said. "Bake walked two guys, and then he missed a slider and decided to try to sneak a fastball by (Cabrera) and that didn't work."
Cabrera lined his 11th homer over the left-field wall the next inning, after Ramon Santiago and Boesch had walked, putting the Tigers ahead by four runs.
Porcello (5-3) gave up one hit in the third, fourth -- when Boesch made an inning-ending diving catch with two on -- and sixth before the Twins chased him the next inning. Delmon Young hit a leadoff single in the seventh and scored on Butera's first homer this season. Porcello's night ended after diving for and missing a popped-up bunt with two outs.
Daniel Schlereth entered the game and exited after his only pitch hit Morneau. After Al Alburquerque walked the first batter he faced, the hard-throwing righty struck out Trevor Plouffe, who was pinch-hitting for Thome, to preserve the two-run lead.
"Alburquerque came back with a big strikeout," Leyland said.
NOTES: Mauer, the 2009 AL MVP and three-time batting champion, has been out since April 14 with leg weakness and an injured right shoulder. ... Inge had his 10-year anniversary in the majors Wednesday and now has no-trade rights because he has spent at least five straight years with the same team. Inge was humbled by a pregame gift of Dom Perignon champagne and a note from Gardenhire. ... Twins SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka is expected to play seven innings at an extended spring training game on Thursday with Mauer in Fort Myers.