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This time, the Twins finished the rally they failed to complete on opening day. And the last guy off the bench got it done.
Eduardo Escobar's two-run double with one out in the ninth inning lifted the Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday.
"You lose the first game, and some people think the world is going to end," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But you get a lot of chances to win baseball games. ... You just have to keep playing, and that's what we did today. It's a big boost out there to get a win under your belt against a great team over there. That was fun baseball."
After Joaquin Benoit issued a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe, reliever Phil Coke took over in the ninth. Coke (0-1) recorded the first out, but Brian Dozier's single advanced pinch-runner Jamey Carroll to third. Then Escobar drove a first-pitch fastball from to the deepest part of the park, where it bounced on the warning track in front of the bullpens in left-center field.
Both runners scored easily as the rebuilding Twins enjoyed their first on-field celebration of the season. They also spoiled another strong Tigers pitching performance, this one by Anibal Sanchez after Justin Verlander threw five shutout innings on Monday.
"He hit it a lot better than I thought," Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson said. "I didn't think it was going out. I kept running, and it seemed like it kept carrying."
The AL Central champion Tigers began the season without a set closer after Jose Valverde wasn't brought back. Coke has been the head of the committee so far. The left-hander notched a two-up, two-down save in the opener.
"That's our plan when we're facing a closer: Get up there ready to hit," Dozier said.
Valverde, a three-time All-Star who struggled in the playoffs, became a free agent and wasn't re-signed. Hard-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon was sent to Triple-A. So the bullpen became the biggest concern of the spring for the Tigers in their attempt to return to the World Series - and win it this time.
The gametime temperature was 46 degrees, up 11 from the opener, but the afternoon winds were still whipping across the diamond. The announced attendance was 22,963, the smallest crowd in terms of tickets sold since Target Field opened in 2010.
Sanchez surrendered two hits and three walks while striking out five, a line almost identical to Verlander's on opening day.
Detroit star Miguel Cabrera, the reigning American League MVP and Triple Crown winner, has driven in three runs in two games. He hit a pair of two-out RBI singles, one in the third and one in the fifth. Torii Hunter, the former Twins star, has adjusted well to the No. 2 spot in the batting order with his new team. He hit opposite-field singles right before Cabrera's run-scoring hits.
But Twins starter Kevin Correia otherwise had a fine AL debut. The right-hander got the first two outs in each of those innings. Correia, signed as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, finished seven innings and was charged with seven hits and one walk.
"I could've got pinched-hit for in my other league," Correia said. "In one of those games where you're down 2-0, I probably would've got pinched-hit for in the fifth or sixth, so it's nice to have that leeway in order to go back out there."
The Twins had only three hits until the final inning. They scored in the seventh when Plouffe drew a leadoff walk against Downs, stole second and came home when Ramirez, a former Tigers prospect who played 15 games for Detroit in 2009, sent a ground ball down the first-base line that eluded Prince Fielder's reach.
Escobar's was even bigger.
"I am happy," he said with Ramirez translating. "We don't start the game, so we got to prepare for a situation like this. We are the lucky ones today, me and Wilkin."
|Twins players mob Eduardo Escobar after his two-run double with one out in the ninth inning off Tigers pitcher Phil Coke. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Austin Jackson, CF||3||1||1||0||1||0||2||.250|
|Torii Hunter, RF||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.444|
|Miguel Cabrera, 3B||4||0||2||2||0||1||1||.222|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.250|
|Victor Martinez, DH||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Andy Dirks, LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Alex Avila, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.143|
|Omar Infante, 2B||3||1||1||0||0||0||1||.429|
|RBI - Miguel Cabrera 2 (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cabrera 2 (2)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Darin Downs (H,1)||1.1||0||1||1||1||3||0||6.75|
|Brayan Villarreal (H,1)||0.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|Joaquin Benoit (H,2)||1||0||1||1||2||0||0||3.86|
|Phil Coke (BS,1; L,0-1)||0.1||2||1||1||0||0||0||9.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Anibal Sanchez 95-59, Darin Downs 24-14, Brayan Villarreal 16-9, Joaquin Benoit 23-12, Phil Coke 7-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anibal Sanchez 4-6, Joaquin Benoit 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Anibal Sanchez 20, Darin Downs 5, Brayan Villarreal 3, Joaquin Benoit 5, Phil Coke 3|
|Aaron Hicks, CF||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.000|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Josh Willingham, LF||2||0||0||0||2||1||1||.143|
|Darin Mastroianni, PR-LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.286|
|Ryan Doumit, DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||5||.111|
|Trevor Plouffe, 3B||2||1||0||0||2||1||1||.167|
|Jamey Carroll, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Parmelee, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.000|
|Brian Dozier, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.143|
|Pedro Florimon, SS||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.500|
|a- Wilkin Ramirez, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.500|
|Eduardo Escobar, SS||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||.500|
|a-doubled for Florimon in the 7th|
|2B - Wilkin Ramirez (1, Villarreal), Eduardo Escobar (1, Coke)|
|RBI - Wilkin Ramirez (1), Eduardo Escobar 2 (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Wilkin Ramirez (1)|
|SB - Trevor Plouffe (1, 2nd base off Villarreal/Avila)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Chris Parmelee 1|
|Glen Perkins (W,1-0)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Correia 97-63, Jared Burton 12-7, Glen Perkins 10-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Correia 10-8|
|Batters Faced - Kevin Correia 28, Jared Burton 3, Glen Perkins 3|
|Attendance - 22963|
|Game Time - 3:01|
|Temperature - 46|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Cory Blaser, Third Base - Jim Joyce|