Pinch-hit homer by Mauer helps Twins edge Tigers 5-4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joe Mauer disagreed with two called strikes by Laz Diaz and offered as much objection as the mild-mannered veteran will provide by looking back at the plate umpire following the second one that forced a full count.
Mauer, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, shook off the frustration and hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off reliever Louis Coleman, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 on Friday night.
“That’s about as professional an at-bat as you’re going to see,” Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson said. “That’s Joe Mauer right there. He’s a guy that gets a tough pitcher’s pitch on 3-1, doesn’t panic and gets the pitch he needs to hit and just put one of the best swings you’ve ever seen.”
Eddie Rosario and Tyler Austin added solo home runs for the Twins, who finally broke through against Detroit starter Matt Boyd to win their fourth straight game.
Gibson (7-9) allowed three runs and eight hits and struck out five in seven innings. Taylor Rogers earned his first major league save by striking out Jeimer Candelario with two runners on in the ninth.
Mauer entered the game leading the majors with a .419 average with runners in scoring position.
“Well, it was moment in a career full of them,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Mauer’s home run. “You get a chance to use one of the best players in the last decade and a half in the game in a big situation, it is kind of a nice card to have in the deck.”
Added Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire: “He got one up, he yanked it a little bit, and Mauer killed it. I’ve seen him do it many times.”
Boyd (7-11) beat Minnesota on Sunday and had not allowed a hit over the previous nine innings until Austin singled to start the fifth on Friday. Boyd stranded Austin, but the Twins finally broke through an inning later.
Rosario homered to break the scoreless streak against Boyd. Austin started a four-run seventh with his second home run in five games for Minnesota, a towering shot that reached the second deck in left-center field.
Mauer capped the scoring in the seventh with the second pinch-hit homer of his career and the first since May 25, 2009, at the Metrodome. He took a curtain call at the urging of his teammates, including Gibson.
“We don’t give them out too much here, so that was pretty special tonight,” Mauer said. “Definitely appreciate it.”
Boyd surrendered four runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out seven. The Tigers lost their fourth straight game.
“I need to finish,” Boyd said. “That’s what it came down to. Made a few mistakes, kind of put us in a bind there. It’s my job. I just need to finish it for the boys in here. It’s on me.”
GROUND BALL GIBBY
Gibson worked his way through troubles with his ability to get ground balls. Detroit had singles in the first three innings only to be erased with a double play. Gibson got four double-play ground balls in the first five innings.
Gibson has 18 ground-ball double plays this season. He entered the night with the most double plays grounded into in the majors since 2014.
Tigers: LHP Blaine Hardy was placed on the 10-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left elbow. Hardy had been dealing with pain in the elbow and reported issues again Friday in throwing before the game. The move is retroactive to Aug. 15.
Twins: LHP Adalberto Mejia was diagnosed with nerve irritation in his left wrist and he’s been shut down from throwing until the issue can be resolved. Mejia (2-0, 2.01 ERA) felt the injury at the end of his last outing, a five-inning, scoreless start on Aug. 7 against Cleveland. He had thrown back-to-back, five-inning outings against the Indians without allowing a run. … RHP Michael Pineda made his second start with Class A Fort Myers on Thursday, giving up one run on two hits in three innings. Pineda will continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery with three more starts for Triple-A Rochester.
Detroit will start left-hander Ryan Carpenter (0-1, 6.39) on Saturday. Carpenter was recalled when the team placed Hardy on the disabled list. Minnesota will have rookie Kohl Stewart, the fourth-overall pick in the 2013 draft, make his second start in the majors on Saturday. Stewart allowed three runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Detroit in his major league debut on Aug. 12.