Twins continue road trip by crushing Tigers 13-5
DETROIT — The Minnesota Twins might break the single-season home run record this weekend in Detroit.
On Friday, they proved they can do more than hit home runs.
The Twins scored 12 times in the first four innings against the Tigers, including nine before their only home run of a 13-5 victory.
“We know that we aren’t always going to go deep three or four times, so we need to keep doing the other things,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Today, we got guys on base, moved them along and drove them in. It was nice to see the guys using their baserunning skills again.”
The Twins have won five straight, including the first four of a 10-game road trip, and lead the Cleveland Indians by 4 1/2 games in the AL Central.
“This wasn’t my best game, but the offense was fantastic again and we picked up another win,” said Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson. “That’s the only thing that matters now.”
C.J. Cron hit Minnesota’s 262nd homer in the fourth inning, moving them within five of the major-league record of 267, set last year by the New York Yankees.
John Hicks and Ronny Rodriguez homered for the Tigers, who have lost six in a row. Detroit still needs five wins in its last 16 games at Comerica Park to avoid becoming the first modern major-league team to lose 60 times at home.
“We hit the ball well, but we missed some plays out there and some crazy things happened,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was sloppy, and I don’t get it. We’ve just got to keep working. That’s all we can do.”
Gibson (13-6) picked up the win despite allowing four runs and 10 hits in five innings.
“It felt like a death by a thousand paper cuts in the first couple innings,” he said. “I thought I was making good pitches and they were either fouling them off or hitting them into a gap.”
Tigers starter Edwin Jackson (3-8) allowed eight runs with seven hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings.
“I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff, but I was still trying to attack,” he said. “But I had guys 0-2 and was walking them. I just couldn’t put anyone away.”
The Twins scored four times in the first, three before Jackson recorded an out. Max Kepler led off with a walk, Polanco singled and Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario hit RBI singles.
Miguel Sano hit what looked like a routine double-play ball, but shortstop Willi Castro misplayed it, allowing the third run to score. Luis Arraez grounded into a force at second, driving in Rosario to make it 4-0, and C.J. Cron hit into an inning-ending double play.
“We’ve done a really good job of scoring early lately, and that affects the entire game,” Baldelli said. “When you are up 4-0 in the first, it changes the way both teams have to play the game.”
The Tigers came back with two runs in the bottom of the first on Rodriguez’s RBI double off the third-base bag, a wild pitch and a run-scoring single by Dawel Lugo.
Minnesota made it 6-2 in the second on Kepler’s RBI double and Cruz’s sacrifice fly, but Jake Rogers ended a 1-for-36 slump with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
The Twins scored twice more in the third to take an 8-3 lead on a bases-loaded groundout by Jake Cave and Rogers’ seventh passed ball of the season. The rookie is tied for fourth in the American League despite only catching 22 games.
Rosario’s RBI groundout made it 9-3 in the fourth and Cron’s three-run homer off Matt Hall later in the inning put the Twins well into double figures.
“That was cool to watch,” Baldelli said. “The kid spun a ball up and away and C.J. was able to recognize it, attack it and hit a no-doubter the opposite way. That takes a talented hitter.”
Hicks hit a solo homer in the Tigers fourth. Rosario added an RBI single in the eighth, before Rodriguez made it 13-5 with a solo homer in the Tigers eighth.
Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera took batting practice for the first time since leaving Tuesday’s loss to Cleveland with left biceps tightness.
TAKING THE RECORD EVER FURTHER
The Twins now have 142 homers on the road this season, extending their own major-league record. The 2001 San Francisco Giants hit 138 home runs on the road, including 36 of Barry Bonds’ 73.
With the Tigers holding a cross-over promotion with the Detroit Red Wings, both Tigers homers were greeted by the goal horn from nearby Little Caesars Arena.
The teams play the second of four games on Saturday evening, with Detroit’s Matthew Boyd (6-10, 4.47) facing Minnesota’s Martin Perez (9-5, 4.53).