MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Matt Vierling hit two solo homers, Javier Báez had a three-run shot to cap a five-run third inning and the Detroit Tigers cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Báez added a highlight-worthy play at shortstop, throwing out a runner from his knees after a backhand stop.
Detroit, which hasn’t won a season series against the Twins since 2016, entered the four-game series at AL Central-leading Minnesota having lost 13 of 15. The Tigers have won the first two games by a combined 15-5 score.
“I feel like we’re playing our game back to what we were earlier in the year," Vierling said. "Just a little skid, you know, but I almost feel like we know how good we can be, and we know there’s a lot of talent and we can really play baseball. So, we know it’s in there, we just got to find it again.”
Detroit’s Jonathan Schoop added an RBI single against his former team.
Mason Englert (2-2) got the victory with two innings in relief of opener Will Vest. Six Tigers pitchers combined to allow seven hits and strikeout 10.
“I think everybody does in games like that where you get positive at-bats all the way through the order, you get tremendous pitching from the beginning of the game through the entirety of the game, and some really big two-out hits and some balls out of the ballpark," Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said about giving credit. "A lot to like today and when you win like we did today, it’s pretty a loud clubhouse in there.”
Twins right-hander Joe Ryan (7-4) allowed a season-high six runs in seven innings, giving up seven hits and striking out seven. Ryan had a 2.21 ERA through his first 10 starts this season, but has allowed 16 runs in 23 2/3 innings over his last four - with his ERA rising to 3.30.
“I felt pretty good out of the gate and made some pitches, maybe wrong spot at the wrong time,” Ryan said. “Happens and they got some weak hits and then some big hits, strung those together. Definitely frustrating knowing situations and not really, didn’t really put the ball where I wanted to in those spots, but other than that command felt fine. Just frustrating to see those outcomes sometimes.”
Alex Kirilloff hit his fourth homer of the season in the second to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. But the Twins had a baserunner thrown out at third base and a fielding misplay to start Detroit's big third.
“We didn’t start this game off real good and we couldn’t find a way to get back into the game,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Báez has hit safely in six straight games and nine of 10, hitting .302 with two homers and seven RBIs during that stretch.
“Obviously, it’s a big contribution tonight from him, but I think he also thrives in what his teammates are doing too,” Hinch said about Báez. "So, he doesn’t need to carry the whole workload. But when he does things like tonight, it helps to separate and we’re a completely different team.”
In five games since returning from the injured list after a back injury, Vierling has nine hits - three of them homers - in 17 at-bats.
Tigers: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (left index finger pulley rupture) threw a bullpen session Friday. … LHP Tarik Skubal (left elbow strain) is scheduled to make another rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday.
Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda (right triceps strain) made another rehab start for Triple-A St. Paul, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing one run on two hits and four walks.
The Twins will have RHP José De León (0-1, 3.86 ERA) start Saturday in what amounts to a bullpen game in an effort to give the rotation an extra day of rest. LHP Joey Wentz (1-6, 7.23 ) is scheduled for Detroit.
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