MINNEAPOLIS – Moments after Javier Baez finally gave the Detroit Tigers something to cheer about Tuesday, the team gave the game right back to the Minnesota Twins with an embarrassing mess of mistakes on the final play.
Coming off another pair of series losses during the home stand -- one against the New York Yankees and another against the Colorado Rockies -- the Tigers desperately needed to get back on track against their division rival.
For seven innings, Tuesday night followed the same script as most of this year’s Tigers games: The pitching staff kept them in the game, but the offense couldn’t get anything going.
But in the top of the eighth inning, Baez injected some life into the dugout with a go-ahead three-run bomb to left-center field. It felt like the kind of moment that could provide a spark to an otherwise sluggish start to the season.
Well, that good feeling lasted less than two innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, closer Gregory Soto came in with a one-run lead and threw eight straight balls. Six of those pitches were either in the dirt or so far outside the Twins batters didn’t even have to consider swinging.
Then, with two on and one out, the Tigers completely fell apart. Miguel Sano hit a line drive to right field that should have been caught by Robbie Grossman. Instead, he let it bounce off his glove and trickle toward the wall.
Pretty bad timing, right? You haven’t heard anything, yet.
Grossman got the ball quickly back to the infield, and the Twins made a pair of epic base running blunders. First, they didn’t manage to score the tying run from second base on a ball that went to the outfield fence. Also, they had two players standing on third base, gifting the Tigers a free out.
All the Tigers had to do was not throw the ball wildly into the empty outfield. Instead, the Tigers chose to throw the ball wildly into the empty outfield.
Eric Haase tossed -- chucked? Heaved? The throw is hard to define -- the ball to nobody in particular, and it bounced into left field, allowing both Twins runs to score.
You can watch the entire debacle for yourself:
The Tigers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, lost another game to a division rival and dropped to 6-10 on the season. It was an unmitigated disaster.
Now the team has to try to regroup in Wednesday night’s rematch. Otherwise, Detroit will clinch its fifth series loss out of six to start the 2022 season.