MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — All those Cy Young awards, all that heat in their vaunted starting rotation, and there were the Detroit Tigers, staggering out to the field in the eighth inning with an infielder on the pitching mound.
After Andrew Romine served up two monster home runs in the inning, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he thought Romine was one of the bright spots on the night, showing just how bad the series opener against the last-place Minnesota Twins went for the Tigers.
Eduardo Escobar got a career-high five hits, including a homer and a triple, and the Twins batted around twice in a 20-6 rout of the Tigers on Friday night.
The 20 runs are the most in a major league game this season. Tigers pitchers walked nine and threw 214 pitches in the game, which is more than David Price and Rick Porcello threw combined in back-to-back complete games the two previous days.
"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."
Danny Santana had a homer and four RBIs and Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe also homered for the Twins, who scored six runs in the second inning and nine in the sixth to drop the Tigers to 2 games behind Kansas City in the AL Central race.
Robbie Ray (1-4) lasted just 1 1-3 innings, giving up six runs and six hits.
Escobar and Santana hit two-run homers off Ray to get the Twins out to a 6-1 lead in the second inning. The short outing puts a lot of stress on the Tigers bullpen with three more games in the next two days.
"I lost a little command," Ray said. "It seems like they were on everything I was throwing."
Ausmus tried to get creative with his struggling relievers to keep them available through the weekend. No reliever pitched more than 1 2-3 innings before Romine entered.
Romine gave up a double to Kennys Vargas to begin the inning and then threw a wild pitch. Arcia and Plouffe followed with 822 feet of combined homers.
But Romine, who declined comment after the game, got a little mercy from the next batter, veteran Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki. He never swung the bat while striking out looking on a 3-2 pitch.
The Tigers optioned Ray and left-hander Ian Krol to Triple-A Toledo and recalled pitchers Patrick McCoy and Kyle Lobstein to replenish the bullpen.
The Tigers scored four times in the fifth to cut the deficit to 6-5, but Minnesota sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth inning to break it wide open. Joe Mauer came to the plate with the bases loaded twice in the inning, driving in two with a single and forcing one home on a walk, the sixth by a Tigers pitcher in a rugged frame that also included two errors from Kinsler at second base and Nick Castellanos at third.
"This was a bad game, embarrassing really," Ausmus said. "There’s not much to say."
Mauer had two hits and three RBIs and Vargas had three hits and three RBIs for the Twins, who lead the majors in runs scored this month with 113 in 20 games.
Tigers: Ausmus said RHP Anibal Sanchez, on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain, played catch before the game. Ausmus said Sanchez reported that everything went fine and he would play catch again on Saturday. Closer Joakim Soria (oblique) is scheduled to do some throwing on Saturday as well.
The Twins will recall right-hander Yohan Pino (1-5, 5.37) from Triple-A Rochester to start the first game of a day-night doubleheader. He will face Tigers righty Buck Farmer (0-0, 7.20), who is being recalled from Triple-A Toledo. Both teams are allowed to call a 26th player up for the twinbill.
In the night cap, Twins right-hander Trevor May (0-2, 9.00) will face Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander (10-11, 4.76).
SWING AND A MISS
The Tigers were one of several teams in the market for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. But several outlets reported on Friday that the Boston Red Sox landed him with a seven-year, $72.5 million deal. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Detroit reporters before the game that the Tigers had been scouting Castillo for a while and were very interested in landing him, even before trading center fielder Austin Jackson. But he also said there bid was not close to the one that won it for Boston.
"If we were in second place, there was a big difference in the first place," Dombrowski said.