Tigers fall apart late as Twins rally for victory

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Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — So much for whittling away at being 10 games behind.

Losing a game they shouldn’t have, the Tigers now find themselves 11 back — with 30 games remaining after Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Twins.

“We’re fighting for survival,” manager Jim Leyland said before the game.

After the game, he shook his head and said, “Not good. That can’t happen, what happened.”

As for the Tigers’ survival, such as it is, Brandon Inge said “fact is fact. The numbers are the bottom line.”

That they are.

The Tigers weren’t trounced, however. They weren’t blanked. They were Twin’d.

If there is such a word.

But it’s always been a way more than a word.

Looking like what they are, a team that often finds a way to win, the Twins again found a way. Actually, they were handed a way.

Leading by a run in the seventh, the Tigers found themselves in bases-loaded trouble when Phil Coke walked the first batter he faced, then hit Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel back-to-back with two outs.

Leyland for Ryan Perry at that point, but Perry walked Michael Cuddyer on four pitches to force in the tying run.

Delmon Young followed with a single to right, putting the Twins in front, but it was on that sharply hit ball to right that Kubel was thrown out at the plate.

“Two very good relievers who just didn’t get the job done tonight,” Leyland said of Coke and Perry.

The Tigers threatened in the ninth, but with Ryan Raburn at second and one out, Miguel Cabrera grounded out to short — then with Raburn at third and two outs, Matt Capps struck out Jhonny Peralta to end the game.

Two things could have put the Tigers in a deeper hole than the one in which they found themselves in the ninth.

If Danny Valencia’s two-out double in the sixth hadn’t bounced over the fence in left-center, it would have driven in two runs instead of one.

And if third base coach Scott Ulger hadn’t made the glaring mistake of sending Kubel home from second, in what resulted in an easy third out in the seventh, the Twins would have had Valencia up at the plate with the bases still loaded.

As it was, the Twins — who had trailed since the first inning — were up by one after seven.

A throwing error by shortstop J.J. Hardy on the game’s first play got the Tigers off to a good start.

But after a bunt single by Will Rhymes and two ensuing outs, it was a two-out single by Peralta — and another (on a 1-2 pitch) by Brandon Inge — that made it an even better start.

A second throwing error by the Twins allowed the Tigers to score a third unearned run in the second.

After that, starter Brian Duensing slammed the door through the sixth — but he got some assistance from the same defense that didn’t help him earlier.

An excellent catch in left by Jason Repko, robbing Alex Avila of extra bases with Casper Wells on first, prevented the Tigers from scoring in the sixth.

But Peralta made a fine catch to keep the Twins off the board in the first. Peralta’s catch was the result of sheer hustle. Left-fielder Ryan Raburn stumbled on the play and wouldn’t have been able to get to the shallow fly ball, but Peralta raced out to make the grab.

Through the early innings, it looked like the Tigers’ night. For that matter, through the sixth it did.

But the Twins — being the Twins — had other intentions.

Sept. 1, 2010