Tigers trump Twins thanks to timely hitting
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Tigers starter Max Scherzer was visibly frustrated on the mound when he walked the first two Twins he faced in the second inning.
Scherzer's bout with wildness was brief. He recovered quickly at Minnesota's expense.
Miguel Cabrera became the first player in Tigers history to reach 30 home runs in five straight seasons and Scherzer struck out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings for Detroit in a 5-1 victory over Cole De Vries and the Twins on Wednesday.
Scherzer (12-6) has fought control problems and high pitch counts that hinder his ability to work deeper into games, but he's also become one of baseball's most powerful pitchers. So what happened after those two walks to start the second? He struck out three straight to finish the inning.
"Effectively wild," was Justin Morneau's assessment of Scherzer. "He walks two guys and manages to paint 97. He made pitches. He's tough. He's leading the league in strikeouts for a reason."
Scherzer walked just those two batters and allowed four hits. The right-hander improved to 6-1 with a 3.36 ERA in his last nine starts and reached double-digit strikeouts for the fourth time this year. He threw 117 pitches, matching his third-most this season.
"Late movement. Throwing 97 to 98 doesn't hurt either. He's got deception, and he had a really good game," said Joe Mauer, whose RBI single in the eighth inning against Octavio Dotel kept the Twins from being shut out for the first time since June 23 at Cincinnati.
Cabrera also singled in the fifth off De Vries (2-4) to push his majors-leading total to 103 RBIs. His opposite-field solo shot in the first inning put the Tigers in front, and Delmon Young added a two-run homer against his former team.
De Vries stumbled badly the last time he took the mound, by far the worst of his 12 career starts, when he gave up eight runs, got only four outs and described the batting practice display by Tampa Bay as an "ambush job." The right-hander was a little better this time, but he failed to record an out in the fifth before Jeff Manship was summoned from the bullpen.
De Vries hasn't won since June 30. He allowed eight hits, four runs and two walks while striking out three.
"The thing that's encouraging is we worked out a game plan that I didn't execute to the fullest. With that in the back of my head I can go out next outing and do that," De Vries said.
The Tigers began the day two games behind Chicago in the AL Central, with seven contests remaining between them this season, and they kept the pressure on the White Sox -- as well as the wild card leaders -- with a well-rounded performance against a division rival that used to be a nemesis for them.
The Tigers have won 25 of their last 34 games against the Twins, who rallied to beat them out for the Central title in both 2006 and 2009. Overall, Detroit has won 27 of 43 since June 28, the best record in the league during that stretch.
Cabrera went 6 for 14 in this series and 10 for 24 on the road trip.
"He's just an animal. I think he's the best hitter in our league," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins put the leadoff man on three times, including Morneau's seventh-inning double, but couldn't manage more against Scherzer.
"It's hard to settle in against those guys when they misfire one under your chin and then put the next one on the black," Morneau said.
NOTES: The Twins sent Manship to Triple-A Rochester with RH reliever Luis Perdomo after the game. RH Anthony Swarzak was reinstated from the DL, and the Twins will bring up another position player Friday in Seattle. ... The Twins played without CF Denard Span for the third straight game because of a sore right shoulder. He'll take batting practice Friday with the goal of playing at some point during that series against the Mariners. ... Pedro Florimon, recalled from Rochester when struggling SS Brian Dozier was sent down, will become the 43rd player used by the Twins this season. He joined the team shortly before the first pitch. Florimon, Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla will share time at SS and 2B. ... Young was traded to the Tigers a year ago to the day, and he homered against the Twins that time, too. This, though, was only the second time he went deep in 113 at-bats since the All-Star break. He has 13 home runs this season.