MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ryan Jeffers and Miguel Sanó homered, leading J.A. Happ and the Minnesota Twins over the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Thursday night.
Jeffers’ homer with one out in the fifth inning marked Minnesota’s first runner against Tigers starter Tarik Skubal.
“I consider him one of the best young starting pitchers in baseball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s very tough. We’re going to see a lot of him going forward. We kind of waited him out.”
Sanó started the seventh with his 15th homer of the season, connecting against off Skubal (5-8) to tie the game at 3.
Max Kepler beat out an infield single and Gilberto Celestino followed with another grounder. Detroit tried to turn a double play, but Kepler was called safe at second and Celestino beat the relay throw to first.
The Tigers requested a replay review, but it confirmed second baseman Willi Castro pulled his foot off the bag too quickly, keeping Kepler safe.
After a sacrifice bunt, reliever José Cisnero unleashed a wild pitch that scored Kepler with the go-ahead run. Jorge Polanco added a sacrifice fly.
“We obviously didn’t execute and gave away a lot of outs, a few outs on defense and maybe a few opportunities on offense,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said, “We couldn’t keep them in the ballpark either. Those are three keys to this game and it is frustrating. It has not been our norm. You’re reminded quickly. If you don’t execute in this game, it can hurt you at the end.”
Happ (5-4) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings, his longest outing since April.
“It’s been obviously a work in the progress here,” Happ said. “I thought we were more efficient in getting to the sides of the plate that we needed to get to. (Jeffers) and I have been working over the last couple weeks and tonight I feel like that’s the best we’ve been together, I think.”
Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect eighth and Taylor Rogers secured his eighth save in 10 chances.
Eric Haase hit a two-run homer for Detroit, which had won four of five.
Skubal surrendered five runs — three earned — and six hits in six innings, snapping a string of wins in his last four decisions.
“I think my misses just became too middle and then I was also working behind guys,” Skubal said. “I thought my stuff was a lot better than what the stat line will show.”
FIRST OF MANY
Thursday’s game started a four-game series between the two teams before the All-Star break. They will play eight games in a row against each other, opening the second half with a four-game series in Detroit.
“When we first saw the schedule and we were talking about this, we were wondering if there was a misprint or if there was something that could be done about it,” Baldelli said. “We were told, no, it was not a misprint and no, there was nothing we could do about it.”
Tigers: RHP Spencer Turnbull (right forearm strain) was evaluated by Dr. Keith Meister, who recommended the pitcher shut down his throwing program after he had a recurrence of pain when he started to throw again after a period of rest. … LHP Matthew Boyd (left arm discomfort) has reported feeling good during his throwing program. Boyd is doing long-toss but hasn’t advanced to mound work. … OF Robbie Grossman was out of the lineup with a jammed finger. ... OF Victor Reyes (intercostal strain) was activated from the injured list and optioned to Triple-A Toledo, where he was on a rehab assignment.
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson returned to the lineup after missing four games with a strained right hamstring. … Baldelli said RHPs Luke Farrell (right oblique strain) and Randy Dobnak (right middle finger strain) are taking it slow in their rehab. Farrell went for an additional series of images that confirmed the oblique issue. Dobnak tried throwing but reported feeling the issue in his finger still. Baldelli said both will continue rest and treatment and could return to baseball activity next week.
RHP Kenta Maeda (4-3, 5.03 ERA) starts Friday night for Minnesota, and Detroit counters with rookie RHP Matt Manning (1-2, 7.94). Maeda bounced back from one of his worst starts of the season against the Chicago White Sox with his best outing in his last start. He threw six scoreless innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts to beat the Kansas City Royals. Manning will be making his fifth career start and first against the Twins. Manning lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his last start, giving up two runs to the White Sox.
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