Right-hander Michael Pineda on Monday will make his second start since finishing a suspension for taking a banned diuretic when the Minnesota Twins finish a five-game series with the Detroit Tigers in Minneapolis.
Pineda (0-0, 3.00 ERA) missed the first 36 games of the season while serving the remainder of a 60-game suspension. He picked up where he left off following an impressive 2019 (11-5, 4.01 ERA) in his debut Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings while striking out four to help the Twins snap a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory. Pineda is 3-2 with a 4.11 ERA in eight career starts against the Tigers.
Minnesota (25-17) rolled off four straight wins after that, a streak that ended Sunday afternoon with a 10-8 loss to Detroit (18-20), when the usually reliable Twins bullpen couldn’t protect a 6-2 lead over the final four innings following a solid start by Rich Hill.
Trevor May allowed three runs on four hits in the sixth, including a long two-run homer by shortstop Willi Castro into the upper deck in right-center. Tyler Duffey allowed two more runs in the seventh, one earned, and Grayson Greiner started the scoring in a three-run eighth with a solo homer off Sergio Romo (1-2).
“You never know how games are going to play out,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Our confidence level was good. I think we played well early on. Rich (Hill) settled in and gave us a nice start, and we put some runs on the board. We gave ourselves a chance, and even the cushion we’ve talked about wanting. But you never have enough runs.”
Minnesota had surrendered just a total of five runs while winning the first three games of the five-game series. Detroit finished with 17 hits, including three home runs, an RBI triple by ex-Twin Jonathan Schoop and three doubles.
“(It) wasn’t our night or day with some of the guys we brought in from the ‘pen,” Baldelli said. “We just couldn’t get those guys out. They kept putting the ball in play and having good swings.”
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Tigers, who are just two games out of the final American League wild-card spot.
“You know, guys were determined, and they had their minds set coming into this game,” said acting manager Lloyd McClendon, filling in for the second straight game for Ron Gardenhire, who is expected back Monday after battling a stomach virus.
It was a day of firsts for the Tigers. Sergio Alcantara became the eighth player in team history to homer in his first major league at-bat leading off the third inning off Hill. Reliever Kyle Funkhouser picked up his first major league win while Bryan Garcia pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first major league save.
The victory took away some of the sting from a 4-3 loss on Saturday night that ended with Byron Buxton beating out a two-out routine grounder to drive in the winning run.
Detroit will call on right-hander Michael Fulmer (0-0, 7.27 ERA) to pitch the series finale on Monday afternoon. The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year, who sat out the entire 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA in five career starts against Minnesota, including 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts at Target Field.
Fulmer pitched three shutout innings in his last start, a 12-1 win at Milwaukee on Tuesday. He allowed three hits and two walks while striking out six before departing after throwing 65 pitches, 35 for strikes.
–Field Level Media