Tigers blow chances in doubleheader loss, fall 1 game behind Sox
BY LARRY LAGE Associated Press September 23, 2012 11:12PM
Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila throws to first as Minnesota Twins' Matt Carson is out at home during the fifth inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader at Comerica Park in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers shrugged off blowing chances to at least tie Chicago atop the AL Central.
Jamey Carroll hit an RBI single in the 10th inning and the Minnesota Twins beat Detroit 2-1 Sunday, winning both games of a doubleheader to prevent the Tigers from tying or passing the slumping White Sox.
“It’s not disappointing,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland insisted. “We’re one game back with 10 games to play.”
Chicago still has a one-game lead in the division despite extending its losing streak to five with a 4-1 loss earlier in the day against the Los Angeles Angels.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera wouldn’t or couldn’t say whether that was a disappointing fact after a long day at the ballpark.
“I’m tired right now,” the AL MVP and Triple Crown candidate said. “Sorry.”
Detroit closer Jose Valverde (3-4) allowed pinch-hitter Denard Span to lead off the extra inning with a single and gave up a one-out, fall-behind single to Carroll.
Jared Burton (2-1) entered in the ninth and got Cabrera to pop out, quieting an “M-V-P!” chant from fans standing in the stands.
“There was a lot of energy with them around and it helped a lot, too,” Burton said.
He then struck out Prince Fielder and got Delmon Young to ground out and end the inning.
Glen Perkins pitched a perfect 10th for his 14th save in 17 chances, helping the fourth-place Twins win the three-game series.
Earlier in the day, Joe Mauer drove in four runs as the Twins rallied against Max Scherzer and pulled away for a 10-4 win in the first game.
“To come in in a playoff situation — whether you’re playing for the playoffs or not — and take two of three from these guys is huge for us,” Burton said.
Detroit got off to a good start in the nightcap.
Cabrera hit his second double of the day and his 40th of the season in the home half, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead and putting him in company with Hank Greenberg as the only players in franchise history to have at least 40 doubles and 40 homers in a season.
Detroit’s dubious defense let the Twins tie it in the fifth inning.
Starting pitcher Drew Smyly fielded a sacrifice bunt with two on and despite having plenty of time, he sailed a throw up the right-field line that pulled second baseman Ramon Santiago off first and loaded the bases.
The Tigers had a chance to escape the fifth inning without giving up a run, but catcher Alex Avila made a wild throw toward first on what would’ve been an inning-ending double play — in part because Matt Carson slid into him aggressively — and Pedro Florimon scored.
“That has nothing to do with why we lost the game,” Leyland said.
Tigers starter Drew Smyly gave up an unearned run, three hits and two walks in 4 1-3 innings.
Twins starter P.J. Walters allowed a run on five hits and a walk over six innings.
At the start of the doubleheader, Scherzer (6-7) was back on the mound after leaving his previous start after two innings with shoulder fatigue.
The right-hander couldn’t get his normally high-90s fastball past 93, but was good enough to hold Minnesota scoreless for five innings only to be let down by his team’s shoddy defense.
“He’s still got great stuff, even if he wasn’t throwing 97,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Despite the diminished velocity, Scherzer insisted he isn’t worried about making his final two starts, including game 162.
“They kept me rested this week, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have my normal zip,” he said.
Cabrera helped the Tigers take a 2-0 lead with an RBI double and a run in the fourth inning, but their notoriously bad defense melted down in the sixth, leading to five Minnesota runs. Ben Revere led off with a fly to left that Andy Dirks dropped just short of the wall. By the time Dirks could locate the ball, Revere was at third with what was ruled a triple.
Mauer pulled the Twins within 2-1 with an infield single, and Josh Willingham moved him to third with a double. That brought Phil Coke into the game, and he got Justin Morneau to fly to shallow left. Dirks, though, got a very late break and the ball dropped for a game-tying single.
The Twins added a bizarre run when a third strike got away from catcher Gerald Laird.
Villarreal covered the plate, but stretched for a force out instead of tagging Morneau. He only realized his mistake when home-plate umpire Tom Hallion singled safe.
“That’s something I’ve never seen in 49 years of baseball,” Leyland said. “He saw the batter heading for first and thought it was a force play. He’s probably not an expert on the rulebook, to be honest with you.”
Scott Diamond (12-8) allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings for the Twins.
NOTES: Detroit’s Justin Verlander (15-8) and Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar (8-14) will pitch in Monday’s series opener at Comerica Park. ... Walters had a “little cramp” during his outing, but stayed in the game. ... Greenberg had at least 40 homers and 40 doubles in the 1937 and 1940 seasons.