Twins head into All-Star break on roll

By Dan Myers Sports Xchange MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins capped a surprising first half of the season in style with a 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers at a steamy Target Field on Sunday. The win completed a 6-1 homestand for the Twins, who h...

(Marilyn Indahl, USA TODAY Sports) Minnesota Twins starter pitcher Kyle Gibson delivers during the second inning against the Detroit Tigers Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis. Gibson improved to 8-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.85 on the year after giving up just one run and four hits in the Twins’ 7-1 win.


By Dan Myers

Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins capped a surprising first half of the season in style with a 7-1 win over the Detroit Tigers at a steamy Target Field on Sunday.

The win completed a 6-1 homestand for the Twins, who had dropped to 2-9 against the Tigers this season following a loss on Thursday. Minnesota won the final three games of the series and moved 4 1/2 games ahead of Detroit for second place in the American League Central Division standings. The Twins’ 49 wins at the All-Star break are the most since the club won 53 in 2008.


“We’ll take it,” Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. “We were confident heading out of spring training. I thought we had a pretty good team.”

Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson capped a splendid first half of the season with seven strong innings on Sunday, allowing a single unearned run on four hits (all singles) and two walks while striking out five.

Gibson used his sinker to coax three double plays from the Tigers, effectively erasing two singles and each of his walks. The lone run he allowed came on a fielder’s choice after a throwing error by catcher Eric Fryer allowed a runner to advance to third base.

After that, Gibson retired nine in a row until a two-out single in the fifth.

Gibson, a sinker-ball pitcher, has forced 22 ground-ball double plays this season, more than any other pitcher in baseball.

“Double plays are always a good thing for me,” Gibson said. “It shows I was able to keep the ball down in those situations. They were hitting ground balls at people and our defense did a good job of turning them.”

The win improved Gibson to 8-6 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.85, the fourth-lowest ERA by a Twins starter at the break with at least 12 starts since 1992.

“Kyle responded to getting the extra start,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “On a hot day, he gave us seven strong innings.”


Gibson got all the support he needed four batters into the game when designated hitter Miguel Sano hit his second major-league home run into the left-field seats, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.

Sano has hit safely in 10 of 11 games since being called up from Double-A Chattanooga on July 3, reaching base in 22 of his 45 plate appearances.

Minnesota tacked on four runs in the fourth to take a five-run lead.

Left fielder Eddie Rosario’s one-out triple set up center fielder Aaron Hicks, who knocked him in with an RBI single to right. Fryer reached on an infield single ahead of shortstop Danny Santana, who tripled off the wall in right field. A sacrifice fly by second baseman Brian Dozier scored Santana to make it 6-1.

Plouffe added a solo home run in the fifth. The homer was Plouffe’s 11th of the year but his first since June 26, a span of 16 games.

“Those things just kind of come,” Plouffe said. “A few times I’ll try and hit home runs but for the most part, I’m just trying to have good at-bats.”

Tigers right-hander Shane Greene, recalled from Triple-A Toledo to make the start, was roughed up for seven runs on seven hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings.

“I made two mistakes that went over the wall and I had a big inning,” Greene said. “I gotta limit the big innings and do a better job of getting ahead of guys and putting guys away.”


Greene has now lost each of his last five starts and has a 12.57 ERA, having allowed eight homers and seven walks while striking out just five over that span.

Coupled with Kansas City’s win over Toronto on Sunday, Detroit heads into the break at 44-44 and a season-high nine games behind the first-place Royals.

“Not a good way to head into the break,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “It’s really not the way we would have liked it to go. We’ll take the four days off, guys can get refreshed and come back Friday.”

Rosario, Hicks and Santana each had a pair of hits for Minnesota, which is nine games over .500 for the first time since it was 33-24 on June 8. Minnesota’s 31 home victories are the most in the American League.

Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was the lone bright spot offensively, getting three of Detroit’s six hits. Kinsler was 8-for-17 in the series with three doubles, a home run and three runs scored.

Detroit center fielder Anthony Gose also had a hit, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.

Notes: Tigers RHP Shane Greene was recalled from Triple-A Toledo following the game on Saturday in time to make a spot start on Sunday. Greene entered the day 4-6 with a 5.82 ERA. He gave up seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to pick up the loss Sunday. ... Tigers CF Anthony Gose was back in the lineup Sunday following a day off. ... Twins RHP Ervin Santana will get the start for Minnesota on Friday at Oakland. He will be followed by RHP Phil Hughes, Gibson, LHP Tommy Milone and RHP Mike Pelfrey. ... Detroit will host the Baltimore Orioles for three games after returning from the All-Star break.



Minnesota 9, Detroit 5

MINNEAPOLIS - Following one of the most memorable comeback wins in Target Field history on Friday night, the Minnesota Twins carried their momentum forward in a 9-5 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.

The Twins scored seven runs in the ninth inning on Friday, capped by a walk-off, three-run homer by Brian Dozier.

Fueled by that emotion on Saturday, the Twins scored seven runs in the first three innings, quickly ending the day of Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon and getting into the Detroit bullpen early.

“We were still running high on that,” Twins right fielder Torii Hunter said.

On Saturday, every player in the Twins’ lineup had at least one hit as Minnesota overwhelmed Simon, knocking him around for seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits over just 2 1/3 innings.

“You peruse the lineup and see that everybody had a hand in it at some point,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “A lot of guys had good days, wherever you want to start.”

Simon has allowed at least five runs in each of his last five outings and has seen his ERA balloon from 2.58 on June 14 to 4.53. Simon had allowed five runs or more just once over his first 12 starts this season.


“It’s really been the same the last four or five starts; he’s scuffling to put the ball where he wants to,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “It’s been a bad stretch for him, for sure. Obviously we need him to get past this sooner rather than later.”

The Twins scored three runs in the second inning to grab the early lead. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, left fielder Eddie Rosario and center fielder Aaron Hicks started the inning with singles to load the bases for catcher Kurt Suzuki, who singled through the hole in short, driving in two.

Shortstop Danny Santana followed with an RBI double down the first-base line, driving in Suzuki for a three-run lead.

“All of my pitches were up, and I was behind in the count,” Simon said. “I have to try and work hard and do better in the second half, try to make pitches down. You try to make a pitch up, you’re going to get hit.”

First baseman Joe Mauer reached on an error to open the fourth inning and scored on designated hitter Miguel Sano’s double high off the right-field wall. Sano was thrown out trying to advance to third.

Singles by Plouffe and Rosario set up Hicks, who tripled off the right-field wall. Santana knocked in his second run of the day two batters later with an infield single.

The Tigers rallied for three runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth off Twins starter Phil Hughes, getting back to within 7-4.

But Hunter hit a massive two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, stealing back the momentum from the surging Tigers.


“The energy in the dugout was really good,” Ausmus said. “We were chipping away and we felt like we had a chance to get in the game. Torii’s home run was the final nail.”

Hughes got the win despite allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings, striking out three.

Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez got Detroit on the board with a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. Catcher James McCann had a two-run single later in the inning to make it 7-3. Martinez was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

An RBI double by left fielder Yoenis Cespedes made it a three-run game in the fifth before Hunter calmed the nerves of the home crowd with his 425-foot shot into the third deck.

“You’ve gotta have kids in college to do stuff like that,” quipped Hunter, whose son Torii Jr. is a wide receiver for Notre Dame’s football team. “The wind was blowing today. I just tried to put a good swing on it. That one right there, I just put good wood on it and the wind took it from there.”

Molitor called it “a really big home run for us after they had narrowed the gap on us.”

Plouffe and Rosario had three hits apiece and each accounted for two runs. Hicks had a pair of hits and a walk and knocked in two. The 5-9 hitters in Minnesota’s lineup went a combined 11-for-19 with six RBIs and scored six runs.


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