Tigers unable to muster much against Twins’ Gibson
DETROIT (AP) – Miguel Cabrera was at the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and Detroit Tigers fans roared with excitement.
Moments later, they let out a collective sigh.
Cabrera hit into an inning-ending double play against Kyle Gibson, helping the Minnesota Twins hold onto a one-run lead in a 2-0 victory over Detroit on Friday night.
“You certainly have to give credit to Gibson, who is a good pitcher, but we had opportunities and we didn’t do anything with them,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Minnesota, which started the day in last place, pulled within three games of the AL Central-leading Tigers in the tightly contested division.
Since a 27-12 start, Detroit has lost 17 of 24 games and it has struggled even more at home lately, losing 11 of 15 at Comerica Park.
“We’re still in first place, and we just have to turn things around,” starter Drew Smyly said.
Smyly (3-4) did his part in the series opener, but he didn’t get any run support.
He gave up one run, four hits and three walks over six innings.
Smyly made one mistake to Eduardo Escobar, who hit a solo homer in the third.
“I hung a 1-2 curveball to the No. 9 hitter and he hit it out,” he said. “At the time, that was frustrating, but I got out of that inning with only one run, and I was pleased with that. As it turned out, that turned out to be the difference in the game. That makes it a lot tougher to handle.”
Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Against former Twin Joe Nathan Minnesota added to its lead in the ninth.
Josh Willingham reached on a throwing error by shortstop Eugenio Suarez to lead off the ninth. Pinch-runner Sam Fuld advanced on a wild pitch and got to third on a groundout. Nathan later gave up a two-out walk to Trevor Plouffe and hit Eduardo Nunez to load the bases. Escobar walked to make it 2-0, chasing Nathan, who was booed as he walked to the dugout.
“We need Joe Nathan to pitch well, and we need him to close out games for us,” Ausmus said. “He has the track record and he also had a really good stretch here where he saved a lot of games for us. So I’ve seen his success first hand.”
Phil Coke entered and struck out Danny Santana to keep the Tigers within two runs.
Gibson (6-5) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw seven scoreless innings for a second straight start and held an opponent without a run for the third time in four outings.
“His ball was moving really nice,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He had them in a defensive mode. You could see them fighting off pitches.
“Their guy was pretty good, too.”
Casey Fien pitched a perfect eighth and Glen Perkins gave up one hit in the ninth, closing the game for his 17th save in 19 chances as Minnesota won three straight for the first time in nearly a month.
NOTES: Tigers RHP Luke Putkonen, who is out indefinitely, had elbow surgery Thursday and will be evaluated again in 6 to 8 weeks. … Tigers OF Andy Dirks, who had back surgery in March, is expected to begin a rehab assignment in about a week if he does not have any setbacks. … Detroit was shut out for the fourth time this year.