Tigers drop third straight with 9-3 loss
The 2012 Detroit Tigers are the baseball team version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson's novella involved the strange case of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who had two personalities, one good — Dr. Jekyll — and one evil — Mr. Edward Hyde.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Tigers were Mr. Hyde Monday night in Minnesota.
Pretty much anything that could go wrong did go wrong in the 9-3 loss, the Tigers' third straight defeat and fifth in their last six games.
Hoping for Anibal Sanchez to look more like he did against the Cleveland Indians than he did against the New York Yankees, the Tigers instead got the latter.
Sanchez allowed five runs on 12 hits while walking one and striking out three in 5 1/3 innings.
"We just got beat up," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit's John Keating on the postgame show. "Anibal Sanchez got the ball up and got hit hard. He's done that quite a bit since he's been here, gotten the ball up. He's not keeping the ball down well enough and he paid the price for that."
Darin Mastroianni made a bid to become the newest Tigers killer, hitting a solo home run off Sanchez in the fifth and a two-out, two-run single off reliever Phil Coke in the sixth, scoring two runners that Sanchez put on.
"I try to keep the ball down, that's the key for every pitcher," Sanchez told Keating on the postgame show. "If I got any elevated ball, just keep working on that. But today I feel much better than last time when I throw against the Yankees. I throw a lot of first pitch strikes, that's important. Every contact they make, I think they find the hole. Just two big hits — (Alexi) Casilla and the homer. The rest of the guys just made contact and they find the holes."
The bullpen did not fare well either. Duane Below gave up a three-run home run to Ryan Doumit and Joaquin Benoit allowed a run. Rookie Darin Downs was the lone pitcher to emerge unscathed.
The night forced the Tigers into a roster move afterward.
"This was a combination tonight of we gave up some runs and then we had Cokie come in, we were down 5-1," Leyland said. "After we were down 5-1 when he comes out, I didn't want to use Cokie up, obviously. We brought in Below, who we're actual going to option to Toledo and recall the contract of Luke Putkonen.
"You've got to be able to stop it and we haven't been able to stop it. We've given up some add-on runs but it starts with the starting pitching. Anibal just didn't have a very good start."
Meanwhile, Twins starter Samuel Deduno tamed the Tigers' bats, holding them to three runs on five hits while walking five and striking out six in seven innings.
"He was tough to pick up today and just figure out," catcher Alex Avila said. "He walked, I think, four or five of us. Normally you're able to get something out of those walks and stuff like that, but he just had some nasty stuff. He was kind of effectively wild today. We just couldn't square him up."
When Tyler Robertson replaced Deduno in the eighth, Prince Fielder looked like he might have a hit for extra bases. But Mastroianni struck again, robbing Fielder with a diving grab.
"I had a feeling he was going to try and pull something and he faced Tyler a couple weeks ago and pulled one hard," Mastroianni said on the postgame show. "So I was kind of leaning over there, it just kind of hung up long enough, I just kind of dove and I was just hoping, 'Please go in there.'"
And of course on a night when Mr. Hyde was playing, it did go in.
The good news for the Tigers (61-55) is the Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox (62-52) lost 3-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays in 11 innings, meaning they remain just two games back.
For his part, Leyland is not panicking.
"I worry about playing good and getting the big hits, pitching well," Leyland said. "I'm not worried about the standings right now, probably as much as everybody else is. Maybe I should be. At the same time, you know how you cure that, you cure that by winning games, putting together hits and runs and good pitching. We're capable of doing that and we will."