MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Tigers went on their scoreless 16-inning streak in the sixth inning on Wednesday when Harold Castro hit a solo home run to right center field at Target Field.
He launched another solo shot in the eighth.
In the 10th inning, Jeimer Candelario smoked a go-ahead for a two-run home run to direct midfield on a first-pitch fastball from right-handed reliever Trevor Megill. He also drove in Jonathan Schoop, the free extra-innings runner at second base.
“That’s the candy I have to be consistent with,” Candelario said. “If I can be consistent in that, a lot of things will work our way. I have to be consistent in putting the run on the ball and thank God I helped my team win.”
The Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 in the series finals to avoid a three-game series sweep. Detroit improved to 15-28, now 11½ games behind Minnesota for first place in the American League Central.
“It’s always nice to have a lucky flight,” said Candelario.
“We had to find a way to enforce that,” said manager AJ Hinch. “We didn’t play very well against this team. We’ll play them a lot next week. You have to get up and fight for yourself. We have to win as many games as possible.”
Thanks to Eric Haase (walk), Derek Hill (single) and Daz Cameron (walk), the Tigers loaded bases with an out in the top of the ninth inning. Hinch called on Miguel Cabrera, a right-hander, to step in as a pinch-hitter and replace Castro, a left-hander, in the batting order.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who hits two home runs,” Hinch said. “Probably not, but that’s the perfect scenario with Miggy on the bench.”
Cabrera, who met left-handed assist Caleb Thielbar, slammed and looked to a 3-2 fastball that appeared to land below the striking zone. After the strikeout, Cabrera expressed his displeasure with home plate umpire Charlie Ramos.
Three pitches later, Jonathan Schoop flew to right field to end the inning.
“We had the best matchup imaginable when Miggy came on against the left-hander who dominated left-handers and fought right-handers,” Hinch said. “We got the matchup we wanted. …borderline pitch, I haven’t watched it on video. Miggy told me what he thought the ball was down. It was unfortunate but our boys still found a way to win.”
The closer Gregory Soto recorded a scoreless eighth inning and returned for the end of the ninth. He grabbed the first out but hit pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick with a full-count slider to put the potential game-winning run on bases.
Hinch turned to right aide Alex Lange.
For a long time, Gio Urshela knocked out and allowed Nick Gordon a single. The single to Gordon put runners in the corners before Gordon advanced to second base due to defensive indifference. But Lange escaped the traffic jam when Gilberto Celestino touched down.
Right-back Michael Fulmer, trying to defend a 4-2 lead, loaded bases with no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning because of the free extra innings runner, a throwing error by Willi Castro and a single by Luis Arraez.
“But then Correa comes along and I knew what I had to do,” Fulmer said. “I had to get either a groundball or a punchout.”
Fulmer rebounded by hitting Correa.
Then Hinch went to left-hander Andrew Chafin to take on Max Kepler, a left-hander who has destroyed the Tigers for four of their six home runs this season. Kepler struck swinging, bases charged.
Gary Sanchez jumped out of play for the final to Spencer Torkelson, who made a running grab in foul territory.
“I had a left-hander coming up,” Chafin said of his duel with Kepler. “I knew I was going to do slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider, slider until we got the results we wanted.
Harold Castro is on the offensive
The Twins’ right-hander Dylan Bundy entered the game on 18 earned carries in 26 innings for a 5.14 ERA in six starts. The 29-year-old sliced the Tigers 5⅔ innings in his seventh game, enabling a five-hit run and a six-strikeout walk. He threw 63 of 85 pitches for strikes.
Bundy lowered his ERA to 4.54.
The Tigers only scored against Bundy in the sixth when Castro connected with a four-seam fastball at 89.9 mph in fourth for his second homer of the season. The ball traveled a distance of 381 feet and was hit with an exit speed of 100.1 mph.
“I liked our bats,” Hinch said. “They have developed in the right direction, which is good. But we put up some pretty decent bats. We didn’t have anything to show for the longest time except Harold’s balls left the stadium.”
Right-hander Emilio Pagan took the mound for the Twins in the eighth inning to defend a one-run lead. Castro, the first hitter he faced, hit a four-seam 94.3 mph fastball in second for his second home run of the game and third homer in 25 games.
This time, the ball — hit at an exit speed of 105.3 mph — traveled 423 feet down the middle.
The two-homer game was Castro’s first career multi-homer game. He has 11 homers in his 256-game majors career spanning five seasons.
“Hittin’ Harold?” said Fulmer. “Let’s start calling him ‘Homerin’ Harold.” I was just checking out the home run he hit into the second deck on my phone. I didn’t realize he was going that far. We can’t see that far from the bullpen in this part of the park.
The Tigers finished with four runs on eight hits and six walks with nine strikeouts. Harold Castro went 3-on-4 with two RBIs, while Hill and Willi Castro put in two-hit performances. Six players converged for the six walks, including Javier Báez, who recorded his first walk since May 8.
Detroit’s offense improved to 2.74 runs per game — still the worst in baseball at almost a half run.
Rony García and his friends go to work
The Twins used one shot to hit two runs – it came from Trevor Larnach with an out in the fourth inning. Right-hander Rony García, who opened the Tigers’ all-bullpen game, gave up the two-run home run.
With a 0-1 lead on the count, García offered a four-seam fastball on the second pitch.
It was his 70th pitch of the game.
Larnach disposed of the fastball and cranked the ball 431 feet to right centerfield with an exit speed of 112.4 mph. He plated Gary Sanchez, on board after a five-pitch walk.
“I missed it,” García said. “It was a bit high.”
García allowed two runs with three hits and two walks with five strikeouts over four innings. The 24-year-old gave up 48 of 78 strikes in his third career start.
For his 78 pitches, he threw 48 fastballs (63%), 20 curveballs (26%) and eight changeups (11%). He had five swings and misses – four fastballs and a curveball – to 10 called strikes.
“Rony did a really good job,” said Hinch. “Some of those pitches he’s thrown this year will put him in position if we need another start from him in five days. It was important for both him and Peralta to somehow get us into sixth.”
Peralta, a right-hander, replaced García and completed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He led the Tigers through the fifth and sixth frames before handing the game to right-hand Joe Jiménez.
Jiménez threw 12 of 13 pitches for strikes and hit the swingarms in the seventh: Gordon (94.7 mph fastball), Celestino (85.2 mph slider) and Byron Buxton (84.5 mph slider).
“I have no doubts about what they are doing,” García said of the bullpen. “They know what they’re doing and I felt quite comfortable and confident that they were going to do their job.”