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Twins get swept up again

By Brian Murphy St. Paul Pioneer Press DETROIT -- Justin Verlander came to pitch for the Detroit Tigers while the Twins failed to show up for starter Ricky Nolasco in Wednesday's 6-3 loss. Eduardo Nunez's throwing error in the first inning led to...

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins Wednesday at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Rick Osentoski | USA TODAY Sports)

By Brian Murphy

St. Paul Pioneer Press

DETROIT - Justin Verlander came to pitch for the Detroit Tigers while the Twins failed to show up for starter Ricky Nolasco in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss.

Eduardo Nunez’s throwing error in the first inning led to the first of two unearned Detroit runs as the Twins committed three errors among numerous fundamental mistakes that prompted manager Paul Molitor to bench left-fielder Eddie Rosario.

Rosario overthrew the cutoff man in the first inning behind Ian Kinsler’s run, allowing J.D. Martinez to take second on his RBI single and eliminating a potential force play.

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Later Rosario and Nunez let a pop fly drop in shallow left field. With two outs in the seventh, the Twins trailing 4-0 and Joe Mauer batting, Rosario brazenly stole third base against the nonplussed Tigers.

“The risk 100 fold is greater than the reward,” Molitor said. “Being safe doesn’t make it right for me. I wanted to get Eddie out of the game at that point.”

Darin Mastroianni replaced Rosario in left field for the last two innings.

Verlander mastered the Twins again, striking out 10 as Detroit completed a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.

The hard-throwing right-hander improved to 11-1 with 120 strikeouts in his past 12 outings against the Twins, who were swept for the eighth time in 2016 to fall a season-high 19 games below .500.

Nolasco allowed two earned runs and struck out six in five innings, yielding a solo home run to Ian Kinsler (3 for 4, three runs batted in).

“It felt good,” said Nolasco (1-2, 4.74 earned-run average). “Good velocity, good movement. Moving in the right direction as far as how I’m feeling.”

Molitor said Nolasco deserved a more prepared and proficient defense behind him. Miguel Sano let a ball get past him in right field, although Nolasco threw wildly in a pick-off attempt at first.

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“Some of the basic things that you would hope at this level - we’ve got to catch the ball, we’ve got to hit the cutoff man,” Molitor said. “It’s a tough hole to dig for your starting pitching when you don’t make plays early.”

Danny Santana had a sacrifice fly, and Trevor Plouffe singled in two runs off reliever Alex Wilson to account for the three runs charged to Verlander, who became the 76th pitcher in major league history to eclipse 2,000 strikeouts, joining Mickey Lolich in Tigers annals.

Lolich struck out 2,679 with Detroit.

Hughes to be assessed

Starter Phil Hughes is scheduled to throw a bullpen today at Target Field and still is slated to start Sunday against Toronto despite shoulder fatigue that cut short his outing Tuesday after 75 pitches.

There had been no discussion about placing Hughes on the disabled list even though he has complained about fatigue in his last four starts. His pitch count plummeted from the 80s and 90s to the 60s during that stretch before he lasted 75 against the Tigers and agreed to be lifted leading 2-1 with one out in the seventh.

Minnesota’s bullpen imploded, and Detroit ultimately won 7-2.

“It’s challenging,” Molitor acknowledged. “We’ll see when he gets out there (Thursday) most likely if this thing’s going to be a lingering issue, be an issue long term and if we’re going to have to make alternate plans. I don’t think we’ll determine that until we see how it goes.”

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Briefly

Catcher Kurt Suzuki was lifted for pinch-hitter Jorge Polanco in the ninth inning after absorbing a foul ball to the mask that knocked him off his feet in the eighth. Suzuki finished catching the inning, but it was one of several hard foul balls he has taken in recent games.

“He said he’s fine; the cumulative effect is always concerning,” Molitor said. “I’m not ready to do anything major about it, but we’ve got to make sure we’re open in terms of communication and making sure he’s recovering from these.”

Taylor Rogers pitched two innings of relief, allowing two runs on four hits. The left-hander, who was called up Tuesday to replace optioned Jose Berrios, also recorded the first strikeout of his career against J.D. Martinez.

 

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