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Minnesota at Detroit

W: D. Willis (1-1) L: C. Pavano (3-2)
S: J. Valverde (7)
HR: MIN - None   DET - None

D-Train wins behind six shutout innings, pitches Tigers past Twins

CBSSports.com wire reports

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers desperately needed a starter to give their beat-up bullpen a break.

Dontrelle Willis delivered.

Willis pitched four-hit ball and made it to the seventh inning in perhaps his best performance with the Tigers, helping them beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Thursday to win the three-game series.

"This was a big series, but the next series is going to be big for us," he said. "I think we beat a good team two out of three, so it's good. But we're going to be hungry for more -- another good ballclub is coming in -- and that's how we're going to win the division, I think."

Detroit had a great chance to win a division title last year for the first time since 1987, but it lost the 163rd game to the Twins and became the first team to miss out on the playoffs after having a three-game lead with four games left.

There's no redemption for the Tigers in beating Minnesota in an April series, but they got something more important: Willis took another step toward showing he's not washed up.

Willis (1-1) struck out six -- his highest total since 2007 when he was with the Florida Marlins -- and walked two in his first win in 11-plus months and just his second in three seasons with the Tigers.

He was 1-6 the past two years in Detroit, averaging more than a walk per inning, and went on the disabled list twice because the team claimed he had an anxiety disorder.

Willis, who says he doesn't think he ever had an anxiety disorder, seems to have his mind and body in the right place.

"I'm having fun," he said.

After Willis walked Jason Kubel to lead off the seventh, Joel Zumaya struck out two in two perfect innings -- matching his career high -- and Jose Valverde pitched a hitless ninth for his seventh save in eight chances. They combined to pitch the first shutout for Detroit (13-10) this season.

The AL Central-leading Twins (14-8) set a franchise record by winning their first six series before losing the last two games of the three-game set in Detroit.

"This is disappointing because we wasted a great pitching performance by Carl Pavano," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Pavano (3-2) yielded up three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and two walks over eight innings despite a stiff neck.

"It was a little sore this morning and then I aggravated it in the fourth or fifth inning, but I just had to pitch through it," he said. "I dealt with this a couple times last year, and it doesn't keep me from pitching, but I'd like to get rid of it."

Johnny Damon's sacrifice fly in the first put the Tigers ahead 1-0, Austin Jackson's RBI single in the fifth made it 2-0 and Don Kelly's two-out single in the eighth gave them a three-run cushion.

The patient Twins forced Willis to throw strikes, and he didn't blame them for looking more than swinging.

"I would, too," Willis said.

Gardenhire said Willis was good, but the Twins let him off the hook at times.

"He got the ball over when he needed it, but we were too impatient when we got ahead in the count," Gardenhire said. "We had a couple chances to let him get himself into trouble, and we didn't take them."

Detroit gave him some early run support as Jackson led off the first with a single, stole second, advanced on an error and scored on Damon's fly. Scott Sizemore hit a double in the fifth and Jackson -- a fellow rookie -- hit another single to send him home.

The Twins didn't use their best lineup. They kept first baseman Justin Morneau out for a second day in a row, playing it safe with his stiff back, and rested catcher Joe Mauer until using him as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.


  • Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez's singled in the fourth inning, becoming the sixth Venezuelan and 260th player in the majors with 2,000 hits.
  • The Twins kept SS J.J. Hardy out of the lineup because of a toe injury.
  • Zumaya hadn't pitched two perfect innings since Sept. 3, 2006.
  • Minnesota and Detroit are the only AL Central teams with winning records.
  • Jackson's 31 hits are the most by an AL rookie in April since Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli had 39 in 2003.
  • The Twins were shutout for the first time since Aug. 29, 2009, and didn't have an extra-base hit for the first time this year.
  • Detroit will host the Los Angeles Angels in its next series and Minnesota travels to play Cleveland.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Dontrelle Willis lowers his ERA to 3.75, yielding just four hits and two walks, while fanning six.  (AP)
Dontrelle Willis lowers his ERA to 3.75, yielding just four hits and two walks, while fanning six. (AP)

Players of the Game

A. Jackson
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0

D. Willis
IP 6.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 2
K 6

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Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, CF4000021 .221
Orlando Hudson, 2B3010100 .281
Michael Cuddyer, 1B3010101 .303
Jim Thome, DH4000023 .256
Jason Kubel, RF2000110 .206
Delmon Young, LF3000001 .233
Brendan Harris, SS3010000 .195
Luke Hughes, 3B3010021 .286
Drew Butera, C2000011 .125
   a- Joe Mauer, PH-C1000010 .342
a-struck out for Butera in the 8th
CS - Luke Hughes (1, 2nd base by Willis/Laird)
Team LOB - 4
E - Drew Butera (1, Throwing)
Minnesota Twins
Carl Pavano (L,3-2) 8732250 3.73
IBB - Cabrera by Carl Pavano
Pitches-Strikes - Carl Pavano 102-62
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carl Pavano 8-11
Batters Faced - Carl Pavano 33
Detroit Tigers
Austin Jackson, CF4121000 .330
Johnny Damon, DH3001001 .309
Magglio Ordonez, RF4120010 .310
Miguel Cabrera, 1B3000110 .330
Brennan Boesch, LF2000110 .278
    Don Kelly, LF1011000 .238
Brandon Inge, 3B4000014 .253
Gerald Laird, C3010000 .163
Scott Sizemore, 2B3110011 .259
Adam Everett, SS3000002 .200
2B - Magglio Ordonez (6, Pavano), Scott Sizemore (4, Pavano)
SF - Johnny Damon (1)
RBI - Austin Jackson (7), Johnny Damon (10), Don Kelly (3)
2-OUT RBI - Austin Jackson (3), Don Kelly (2)
SB - Austin Jackson (4, 3rd base off Pavano/Butera), Magglio Ordonez (1, 2nd base off Pavano/Butera)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Laird-Everett, Sizemore-Everett-Cabrera, Sizemore-Everett-Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
Dontrelle Willis (W,1-1) 6400260 3.75
Joel Zumaya (H,4) 2000020 1.23
Jose Valverde (S,7) 1000110 0.82
Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 101-57, Joel Zumaya 24-15, Jose Valverde 14-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 4-7, Joel Zumaya 2-1, Jose Valverde 1-0
Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 23, Joel Zumaya 5, Jose Valverde 3
Game Information
Attendance - 25595
Game Time - 2:18
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Mike Estabrook, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Paul Emmel, Third Base - Gary Darling