When Jim Leyland spoke to the media before Saturday's game, the former Detroit Tigers' manager said the fans probably were excited to see a different ball club that could score runs in more ways than simply muscling out extra base hits.
Just for their old manager, Detroit busted out the big bats against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon, socking a pair of three run home runs and defeating the Minnesota Twins 9-3 in front of a sellout crowd.
A rough second inning hurt the Twins the most, as singles by Alex Avila and Andrew Romine provided a 2-0 lead. An error helped Detroit score one more, and ten Miguel Cabrera pounded a three run home run over the right field fence to make it 6-0.
Minnesota shockingly came right back. Following a walk and double by Aaron Hicks and Danny Santana, Brian Dozier crushed Max Scherzer's offering to left, cutting the lead in half 6-3. While Scherzer fought his control walking four, Minnesota's Kyle Gibson was chased from the game. Anthony Swarzak kept the Tigers at bay in the meantime with four scoreless innings of relief, and maintained the score through the middle innings.
His replacement Michael Tonkin wasn't as lucky. Following a single and a foolish plunking of Cabrera, the red hot Victor Martinez crushed a three run home run to right field, giving Detroit some breathing room at 9-3.
That was more than enough support for Al Alburquerue and Joba Chamberlain, who each had a scoreless inning of relief. Even Phil Coke got himself out of trouble in the ninth, wrapping up the win on Leyland's special day.
Top Tiger: Victor Martinez. Saturday, Martinez hit his fourth home run of the week, and collected another hit to raise his batting average to .328. Behind Cabrera, Martinez is raking once again, and has become the biggest offensive force on the team lately. That's good news for the Tigers.
Bungling Bengal: None. On a day where Don Kelly provided two hits and Phil Coke managed to pitch a clean ninth inning in front of Leyland, there was literally no reason to single anybody out.
The Turning Point: Torii Hunter reaches on a fielder's choice in the second, allowing Alex Avila to score. An easy flip to second base would have gotten the Twins out of trouble during an inning in which they had already given up two runs, but the dropped ball allowed the inning to stay alive and Alex Avila to score. Immediately after, Cabrera homered, providing the major damage in the game and a margin that Minnesota couldn't battle back from.
Play Of The Game: Don Kelly steals a home run in the first inning. Kelly, who was routinely a defensive substitute and a personal favorite of Jim Leyland, got things off to a fantastic start by robbing Kurt Suzuki of a home run in the first inning. Kelly leapt up against the wall to the delight of the fans and likely his former manager watching above. Later, Kelly's two hits helped the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Stat Of The Game: 3, the number of three run home runs the Tigers and Twins combined for on Saturday. Though Detroit has gained an appreciation for small ball in 2014 and Minnesota has long had an affinity for playing with that style, a rare display of power was shown by both teams.
Quote To Note: "I was a small part of that. It starts with Mr. (Illitch)." —Jim Leyland. Before the game, Detroit's former skipper was quick to single out Illitch as the main person responsible for the Tigers' franchise turnaround and not allow himself to be seen as the sole reason. Illitch, who hasn't been seen much lately in public, was at the game and saluted Leyland and the fans with a wave during the pregame ceremony.
What's Next: The Tigers finish a three game set with the Twins and their home stand in the process looking to go out on top. Robbie Ray (1-0) will go against Samuel Dedundo (0-2) at 1:08 p.m.Anthony Swarzak, Baseball, Brian Dozier, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Don Kelly, Jim Leyland, Max Scherzer, Michael Tonkin, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Phil Coke, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez