The Minnesota Twins haven't given their fans a whole lot to cheer about as of late, but they did so on Monday night in the Motor City, as they knocked off the Detroit Tigers by a final score of 9-6 on the night that Jim Thome reached baseball immortality.
The Tigers actually got onto the board first in this one as Delmon Young. . .yes, the Delmon Young that the Twins had traded to Detroit earlier in the day. . .hit a solo home run in his first at-bat as a Tiger off of Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12 ERA) to give Detroit an early 1-0 lead. He became the first player in eleven years to hit a home run for his new team in his first at-bat against his former team.
Minnesota came back in the top of the third off of Tigers' starter Rick Porcello (11-8, 4.98 ERA). Matt Tolbert started off the inning with a bunt single, and advanced to second on a Wilson Betemit throwing error. A second straight error, this one by Ryan Raburn on a grounder by Tsuyoshi Nishioka, gave the Twins runners on the corners with nobody out. Ben Revere's fielder's choice forced Nishioka at second, but allowed Tolbert to tie the score at 1. Trevor Plouffe then doubled to score Revere and give the Twins a 2-1 lead, and after Joe Mauer was retired on a fly out, Justin Morneau doubled to left to score Plouffe and extend Minnesota's lead to 3-1. However, Detroit came right back in the bottom of the frame, however, as Victor Martinez touched up Liriano for a two-out, two-run homer to tie the score again at three.
The score remained that way until the top of the sixth, when Thome followed Jason Kubel's leadoff single with career home run number 599, a blast to left-center field, to make the score 5-3 in favor of the Twins. Minnesota added another one on an RBI triple by Revere to make the score 6-3. Revere was thrown out at the plate trying to stretch his hit into an inside-the-park home run, but the Twins still had a three run lead. The Tigers, however, would not stay down, as an Alex Avila RBI triple and a sacrifice fly by Betemit cut Minnesota's lead to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, the Tigers brought left-hander Daniel Schlereth out of the bullpen in relief of Porcello. Trevor Plouffe walked to start the inning and, after a Joe Mauer strike out, Plouffe would steal second and advance to third on a wild pitch by Schlereth. Justin Morneau then worked a walk as well, and Kubel followed that up with a strikeout for the second out. Thome then made his way to the plate, and made baseball history by launching his 600th career home run into the bullpen in left field, a three-run blast that extended Minnesota's lead to 9-5. The crowd at Comerica Park came to its feet in approval of Thome's accomplishment, and he was mobbed by the entire Minnesota roster at home plate. Thome became the first member of the 600 home run club to hit number 599 and number 600 in the same game.
Ryan Raburn hit a solo home run off of Alex Burnett in the bottom of the seventh to cut Minnesota's lead to 9-6, but that would be the last run Detroit would push across on the evening. Glen Perkins, Matt Capps, and Joe Nathan retired the final nine Tigers in order to preserve the win for Minnesota.
The same two teams will continue their series tomorrow night in Detroit, with first pitch at Comerica Park scheduled for 6:05 PM Central time. Minnesota will have a tough task ahead of them, as the Tigers will send Justin Verlander (17-5, 2.35 ERA) to the hill. The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.36 ERA).