Tigers 9, Twins 7
For the better part of a decade, Minnesota Twins pitchers have taken pride on their refusal to give bases away.
The pitch-to-contact staff was always among the very best in the league at keeping walks to a minimum and making hitters work for every baserunner.
That hasn't been the case this year, and it's no coincidence that the Twins are in the AL Central basement.
The Twins walked eight in a 9-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, Minnesota's fifth straight defeat.
Starter Scott Baker walked a career-high five and Jose Mijares also had a costly one in the eighth inning. The Twins walked 17 hitters in the two-game series against the Tigers and have walked at least five in a game 13 times this season.
''That's just not throwing it over,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''Got to have courage, too. Courage is throwing the ball over the plate and making them swing the bat, and hopefully we'll catch it. Sometimes you back away and you shy away, and that's not good enough, especially at the end of the ballgame.''
The Twins led 6-5 in the eighth when Mijares walked Brennan Boesch with one out, forcing Gardenhire to bring in closer Matt Capps earlier than he wanted to.
Jhonny Peralta followed with a pinch-hit, two-run homer for a 7-6 lead, and the Twins left the potential go-ahead run stranded on third base in the bottom of the inning after tying the game.
''Mijares comes in and walks a guy. ... That's his guy,'' Gardenhire said. ''You know what they've got on deck, you know what they've got coming in, Peralta. He's got to go after that guy. He's got to make him swing the bat. He didn't. And we've had a few too many.''
Capps (1-2) gave up three runs on three hits in 1 2-3 innings and Glen Perkins also walked two in 1 1-3 innings for the Twins, who finally got a little burst of offense.
''I don't know that any of them are more tough than others,'' Capps said. ''I mean, a loss is a loss, a blown save is a blown save, an earned run is an earned run, a spade's a spade. It is what it is. They all suck.''
And there have been a lot of them this season for the Twins (12-23).
Jason Kubel had two hits and four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the seventh inning that put the Twins ahead 6-5. Justin Morneau added two hits and Michael Cuddyer had an RBI double.
The injury plagued Twins entered the day last in the majors in runs scored and 23 behind Oakland, their closest competitor in the American League. They trailed 5-2 going into the seventh before a four-run rally allowed them to top five runs in a game for just the third time this season.
''I think guys we're getting pretty excited at the end but yet another one just slipped away from us,'' Kubel said. ''Still, we'll try to take a positive out of today. We battled, came back a couple times and hopefully we can just try to do that more often.''
The Twins are still playing without Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness), Delmon Young (oblique), Jim Thome (oblique) and Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg).
''It's pretty simple,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''When your horses are at the vet, that's not good. When they're on the track, that's good. Their horses will be on the track here shortly.''
Young is expected to return on Friday, but it's still unclear when Mauer, Thome and Nishioka will be back.
In their place, Rene Tosoni (.171), Drew Butera (.109), Rene Rivera (.000) and Luke Hughes (.246) simply aren't getting it done.
Matt Tolbert (.177) had an RBI double in the eighth to tie the game at 7 and advanced to third on a throwing error with one out. But Denard Span struck out and Hughes popped out to right field to strand him.
''Things will get better,'' Kubel said. ''We've done it before, and we're just hoping we can do it again.''
NOTES: Tigers LHP Daniel Schlereth served up the homer to Kubel and a double to Morneau in the seventh. ... The Twins said LF Delmon Young (oblique) was scheduled to play six innings in extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday. DH Jim Thome (oblique) and INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken leg) were scheduled to take batting practice. ... Even Baker's start wasn't enough to get struggling Tigers slugger Magglio Ordonez off the bench. Ordonez, who is hitting .172 this year, did not play despite a .469 career average (23 for 49) against Baker.