Tigers lose to Twins in doubleheader opener
DETROIT — Believe it or not, it could have been a lot worse.
What could be worse than a 10-4 loss to the 63-89 Minnesota Twins when you need every victory possible if you're going to catch the Chicago White Sox in the Central Division?
How about the way the Lions-Titans game ended? But I digress.
No question, the pitching, offense and defense were lacking for the Tigers in the first game of a day-night doubleheader with the Twins.
But it could have been worse if starter Max Scherzer really was either A) terrible or B) seriously injured and if the White Sox weren't playing the Los Angeles Angels.
Fortunately, Scherzer wasn't terrible or seriously injured, and the Angels won again.
The Tigers played it safe with Scherzer, taking him out after he threw 86 pitches in a little over five innings.
"I actually felt pretty good," Scherzer said. "My arm felt healthy. I didn't have quite the zip on the ball today, but I felt healthy and was really able to pitch with a lot of off-speed.
"I thought all my pitches -- changeup, slider, curveball -- I was able to work them in to lefties. Besides that last inning, I pitched pretty well."
That last inning, the sixth, was a disaster for the Tigers.
Ben Revere hit a triple that left fielder Andy Dirks couldn't quite get to, and the floodgates opened. By the time the inning ended, the Twins had taken a 5-2 lead and didn't look back.
"I kept going back and the ball kept gaining ground," Dirks said. "At first, I thought I was going to be able to go back and stop and catch it, then I realized I wasn’t going to be able to.
"It hit off my glove and then I ran into the wall."
Scherzer reached his usual top velocity of 94 miles-per-hour only once, and his fastball was mostly in the 92 miles-per-hour range.
Nothing to be concerned about, he said.
"You just kind of realize it (velocity) wasn't there and move on to using the changeup and slider, for me," Scherzer said. "I don't have to have velocity to be a good pitcher. I realize that.
"I knew if I could go out there today and mix speeds, I could be just as effective if I did have velocity. From that sense, I thought I did a good job of that."
Leyland said they weren't going to let Scherzer throw more than 100 pitches and just wanted him to come out of the game healthy.
"When Max usually has to crank it up, he can crank it up," Leyland said. "And he wasn’t trying to do that today for obvious reasons.
"Hopefully, by the next start, it’ll be built back up to where he can do that, and it really didn’t hurt him today."
Relievers Phil Coke, Brayan Villarreal, Darin Downs and Luke Putkonen weren't able to hold the Twins in check, which might have given the Tigers a chance to make a comeback.
The Angels, however, did the Tigers another favor, beating the White Sox, 4-1, Sunday afternoon for a three-game sweep.
A Tigers' victory in the second game of the doubleheader combined with the Angels' win would mean the Tigers would emerge from the weekend tied for first in the division.
"We're in a critical part of the season right now," Scherzer said. "Everybody realizes what's at stake."