4/30: Tyler Duffey Laments First Inning Mistake, Jordan Zimmermann Deals

One mistake derailed an otherwise solid effort from Minnesota Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey (0-1) in a 4-1 loss at Target Field on Saturday afternoon. If it wasn’t enough that Justin Upton hammered a three-run home run to the second deck in left field, Duffey’s admission postgame drove home the point that everything about the pitch was a mistake.

“It’s my own fault there,” Duffey said of the first-pitch fastball that Upton hit for his second home run in a Tigers uniform. “I threw the wrong pitch, actually. I’m kind of glad he hit it, because otherwise it probably would have put (John Ryan) Murphy in a little jeopardy. He called curveball; I threw a fastball. It’s one of those things you learn from really quickly. It was a mistake, and it ended up costing us the game.” 

After Ian Kinsler popped out to Eduardo Nunez on the first pitch of the game, No. 2 hitter J.D. Martinez engaged in an extended battle with Duffey before hitting an eighth-pitch grounder that bounced off Nunez’ glove for an error that could easily be termed as controversial. But that error and a double into the left field corner one batter later by Victor Martinez set the stage for Upton to jump the yard on Duffey, and he did just that — 417 feet into the left field stands in the US Bank Home Run Porch.

All three runs were unearned due to the Nunez error, and the home run coming with two outs.

Duffey settled down the rest of the day, going 6.1 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.

“He settled in,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I thought he pitched aggressively. He used his fastball enough. He did OK. Obviously a mistake on the three-run homer.”

The Tigers got to him for an earned run in the sixth as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez teamed up for back-to-back doubles to plate their final run, and the last of the game. Cabrera crushed a pitch off the base of the wall in center, and while center fielder Danny Santana played the carom perfectly and had a good throw into second base, Eduardo Escobar couldn’t hold onto the ball to tag Cabrera out. Victor followed up with a double that probably should have been caught by Miguel Sano in right, plating Cabrera for the game’s final run.

True to form, the Twins couldn’t get to right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (5-0), who spun his fifth straight solid start since joining the Tigers as a free agent over the winter. A home run allowed to Byung Ho Park in the fourth inning marked the first that Zimmermann had allowed all season, and just the second earned run he’s allowed to this point (0.55 ERA). Prior to the Park home run, Zimmermann had allowed just three extra-base hits all season — all doubles.

“He’s had a nice start over there,” Molitor said of Zimmermann. “That continued today. We had a few hits off him, but not a lot of opportunities. His cutter was his best pitch today, I thought. He got it in on the lefties, and righties chased it a little bit. He gave them seven strong innings.” 

The Twins led off the sixth, seventh and eighth innings with baserunners but none even reached second base safely. The final time came in the eighth when Mark Lowe walked Santana on four pitches — Danny’s first walk of the season — only to see him erased when he ran on a 1-2 pitch that Brian Dozier swung through for a strike out, throw out double play to thwart the Twins’ final rally.

Francisco Rodriguez (S, 6) worked a clean ninth, with the only issue being a heat-seeking line-drive comebacker from Park that Rodriguez deflected and then recovered to record the out.

Notes:

* The Twins fell to 6-7 at Target Field this season with the loss.
* Park’s sixth home run was a solo shot — all six have been solo home runs.
* Joe Mauer’s first-inning single extended his season-opening on-base streak to 24 games. He’s now in sole possession of third place on the Twins leaderboard in that respect.
* Zimmermann is the first Tigers pitcher since Frank Tanana in 1988 to start the season with five straight wins.
* The attendance for the game was 31,109, the sixth-best attended game the Twins have played in this year. Four of the other five have come on the road, with the home opener — Kyle Gibson versus Jose Quintana — the lone exception.

Up Next – Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.25) versus Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 4.64) – Sunday, 1:10 PM

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