MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Once again, the Minnesota Twins showed the Detroit Tigers that big hitting will trump bad pitching.
Kennys Vargas drove in a career-high five runs, Joe Mauer had three RBIs and the Tigers got a second straight short outing from their starter, losing to Minnesota 12-4 on Saturday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Detroit got back-to-back complete games from Rick Porcello and David Price heading into this series at Target Field. And they’ll send Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, who have won two of the last three AL Cy Young awards, to the mound in the final two games against Minnesota.
But in the first two games against the Twins, Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer each lasted only 1 1-3 innings, taxing the Detroit bullpen with two more games to play in the next 24 hours.
“We had a couple young guys pitching, so we knew that this was a possibility,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Robbie and Farmer combined have (eight) starts between them at the major league level now, so it was a concern. And it worked out in the worst possible way.”
And at a tough time, too, as the Tigers missed a chance to move up on AL Central-leading Kansas City.
The Twins scored seven runs off Farmer (0-1), who ran his ERA to 15.63 in his second career start. A day after watching Tigers pitchers give up 20 runs on a combined 214 pitches, Farmer allowed six runs in the second as the Twins batted around for the third time in nine innings.
“I think the thing that was the most disappointing in my perspective was they needed me to go longer than I did today, and I didn’t,” Farmer said. “Everything just started going downhill and I couldn’t recover from it.”
Vargas’ double off Pat McCoy scored Mauer and made it 7-1, giving Yohan Pino (2-5) a nice cushion. Pino worked five innings, allowing four runs — one earned — and six hits while striking out six.
The Tigers scored three unearned runs off Pino in the fifth after a bad throw by second baseman Brian Dozier allowed Nick Castellanos to reach second. Ian Kinsler, Ezequiel Carrera and Miguel Cabrera all singled to pull Detroit to 9-4.
But Vargas put it out of reach with a three-run double in the seventh off reliever Kyle Lobstein.
Lobstein made his big league debut and bailed out the pitching staff by throwing the last 5 2-3 innings for Detroit.
“He picked us up, in the sense that he was able to finish out that game so our tired bullpen, with the exception of McCoy, is intact for Game 2,” Ausmus said. “I thought he did a good job. He did what we thought . he could do for us, and that is pitch a bunch of innings for us if we were in a jam.”
Tigers: Manager Brad Ausmus said that RHPs Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria were scheduled to throw in the bullpen between games on Saturday. Sanchez has been on the disabled list since Aug. 9 with a strained right pectoral muscle, while Soria has been out since Aug. 10 with a strained left oblique.
Justin Verlander (10-11) and the Tigers both try to snap two-game losing streaks in the second game of the doubleheader. Verlander was 4-0 in his last six starts at Target Field. Twins starter Trevor May (0-2) tries for his first major league victory in his third career start.
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