The Detroit Tigers have been struggling mightily offensively. With Eugenio Suarez acting as the catalyst, Saturday, those struggles seemed like they were light years away, while some familiar bullpen problems returned in a tough 12-9 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Despite the fact that the Tigers wanted and needed to get their offense off on the right start fast, they wasted a double by Torii Hunter and a seeing eye single by Victor Martinez in the first inning. In the second, Minnesota got on the board via a sacrifice fly by Trevor Plouffe, for the quick 1-0 lead.
That wouldn't last, however. Detroit got the benefit of a home run from Suarez. The Tigers then kept the pressure on, getting a walk from Ian Kinsler, a seeing-eye double from Torii Hunter and a seeing eye single from Miguel Cabrera to open up a 3-1 lead. Then, Victor Martinez lifted off, clobbering a two-run home run to make it 5-1. Detroit added two more thanks to a double by Suarez and a single by Kinsler and led 7-1.
Apparently not satisfied, the Tigers collected more runs in the fourth and fifth, courtesy of a double by Kinsler and a sacrifice fly by Hunter. The spread had swelled to a confident 11-1 margin by the middle innings.
Sanchez, meanwhile, showed no signs of giving in after giving up the early run. He was in command through the sixth, then gave up a run in the seventh en-route to being removed from the game for Evan Reed. Sanchez, though, was no less dominant, striking out six and leaving to a standing ovation.
Minnesota made things interesting, collecting six runs off Detroit's patchwork bullpen in the seventh and eighth innings, and even pressuring Ian Krol in the ninth inning with a two run home run from Brian Dozier. When the dust settled, they had sliced Detroit's lead to 12-9, but Krol finished the win off, collecting his first major league save.
Top Tiger: Eugenio Suarez. Even though Suarez didn't collect Detroit's first cycle since 2006, he had an outstanding day at the plate, socking his third home run of the year while also collecting a double and a triple. Suarez also managed to walk against a tough pitching staff and make a nice catch in the field. The Tigers' rookie is impressing immediately after coming up, which is good news for a team which had a major hole at shortstop.
Bungling Bengal: The Bullpen. Even though the Tigers managed to win the game, it wasn't without the bullpen's best efforts at a sabotage. After Sanchez twirled a four hit, two run gem, the rest of Detroit's pen combined to allow eight hits and five runs. Start to finish, it was an ugly performance by everyone in the midst of what should have been a blowout.
The Turning Point: Victor Martinez's home run pads an early lead. From the moment Martinez collected his home run after review, it was clear the rout was on. Detroit socked out 10 extra base hits, and it started thanks to Martinez's big fly, which busted open the game at 5-1. The Tigers have needed a hit like that to take the pressure off, and they got it early in the game on Saturday.
Play Of The Game: Torii Hunter's whiff in the field during the seventh inning. Today's play of the game wasn't a positive play, but rather, a negative one. During a seventh inning that would never end, Hunter attempted to one-hand a ball on the ground that rolled comically under his glove. It was yet another mistake in the field in 2014 by Detroit's aging right fielder, who's showing a penchant for mistakes and errors in judgment. Thankfully for Hunter, a 2-4 day at the plate with two RBI's helped save the day.
Stat Of The Game: 4, the number of walks the Twins pitching staff issued on Saturday. Coming into the game, Minnesota was a stingy club at allowing the opposition to collect free passes doing so at the fourth lowest rate in baseball, which has helped them win. Today, three of the four walks came around to score, hurting the Twins chances. The more walks the Tigers are collecting, the better off their offense is, especially during the lean times.
What's Next: The Tigers will go for the Father's Day series win against the Twins when Rick Porcello (8-4) will pitch against Ricky Nolasco (4-5) Sunday afternoon at 1:08 p.m.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.Tags: Baseball, Brian Dozier, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Eugenio Suarez, Ian Kinsler, Ian Krol, MLB, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Victor Martinez