Bailey Ober pitched six solid innings and Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer helped the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 on Monday.
“We are very, very pleased with the way Bailey is throwing the ball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “His slider was serious today, but his success isn’t just due to his stuff. When he needs a pitch, he finds a way to make one.”
It was Ober’s first win since July 5, but the rookie right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last eight starts. More importantly, at least in his mind, he has struck out 40 batters while walking only six.
“I had to make some adjustments because I was fighting with my mechanics earlier in the season,” he said. “When I’m in a rhythm, I’m not walking guys, because I’m challenging them and making them swing the bat. I’ve gotten back to that point in these last few starts.”
The Twins have won three of four. Detroit has lost four of five, scoring only nine runs.
“I thought we had some very good at-bats today and we had some that we gave away early in the at-bat,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We did enough to give ourselves a chance, but we need to get a few more big hits.”
Ober (2-2) held the slumping Tigers’ offense to two runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out five without walking a batter. Two Minnesota relievers finished the game, with Alex Colome pitching the ninth inning for his 10th save.
The Tigers got a brief reprieve in the ninth. Harold Castro grounded back to the mound with two out, but a replay showed that Colome’s throw pulled first baseman Miguel Sano off the bag. That gave Detroit runners on first and third, but pinch hitter Robbie Grossman flew out to right.
“We’re not thinking about how the runners got on at that point,” Baldelli said. “Alex is just focused on getting the last out of the game.”
Tigers starter Casey Mize (7-7) gave up three runs on five hits — including Donaldson’s homer, his 21st of the season — in six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
“I thought I did a lot of good things, but I got behind guys in the fourth inning and it turned into four straight long at-bats,” Mize said. “That ends with the homer and costs us the game.”
Derek Hill gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the third inning, hitting a solo homer into Detroit’s bullpen, but the Twins scored three times in the fourth.
With one out, Jorge Polanco tied the game with an RBI single and Donaldson followed with a home run into the shrubbery above the centerfield fence.
Zack Short’s bloop single pulled the Tigers to within 3-2 in the fifth.
Detroit ran itself out of a possible rally in the seventh. With one out, Harold Castro singled and Victor Reyes followed with an infield base hit. Twins first baseman Miguel Sano couldn’t hang on to Polanco’s throw from second but recovered in time to throw out Castro at third.
Max Kepler lined the first pitch of the ninth inning back up the middle at 95 mph and hit Tigers reliever Miguel Del Pozo on the chin. The ball rebounded to third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who threw out Kepler at first.
Del Pozo, who stayed on his knees during the play, appeared to tell the training staff he was OK, and he walked off with a towel held to his bloody chin.
“It looks like he’s going to need some stitches and we’ll obviously be watching him for any concussion symptoms, but he was alert and seemed OK,” Hinch said. “He watched Jeimer make the play — there was just blood all over the place.”
The game, a makeup from a July 16 rainout, was played in front of a minuscule crowd.
The Tigers optioned RHP Jason Foley to Triple-A Toledo and recalled Del Pozo from the Mud Hens.
Twins: Return home for a two-game series against the Chicago Cubs. John Gant (4-8, 4.00 ERA) will start Tuesday night against Chicago’s Zach Davies (6-10, 5.00).
Tigers: Remain home to open a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night. Tarik Skubal (8-11, 4.01) is scheduled to start the opener for the Tigers against Cole Irvin (9-12, 3.68).
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