Casey Mize’s strong start helps Detroit Tigers topple Minnesota Twins

Minneapolis – It seemed like a fair question. Especially after a four-game stretch – which comes at the end of a stretch of fourteen games in thirteen days – in which the Tigers committed an unusual number of errors (nine), gave up eight unearned runs and lost three close games.

Could the Tigers be showing some mental fatigue?

The answer from manager AJ Hinch was a hard no.

“At this level that is unacceptable,” he said. “I don’t see our guys, from a focus standpoint I don’t see that as a problem at all. I think fatigue, extra swings, extra work, guys reacting to success and failure – those are some of the things we always look at.

“Focus will never be a problem with this team, no matter how many games you play in a row. The timetable is built up with these types of journeys. It’s the big leagues. You have to be a big boy about your willingness.

The Tigers certainly had their big boy pants on Sunday, beating the Twins 6-1 to win the series at Target Field.

They played a clean game defensively, supporting a solid effort from starting pitcher Casey Mize.

Mize, despite a wobbly start, shut out the Twins over six innings. Five hits and three walks created cluttered base paths, but he allowed only three runners into scoring position.

He walked two in the first inning but left the bases loaded, allowing Austin Martin to get one back to him and then induce a fly ball to center by Willi Castro.

Mize had four swings and misses through the first four innings, but in the fifth he unleashed his worst splitters. He got five whiffs with that pitch alone in the fifth.

It was the second time in Mize’s injury-interrupted career that he went at least six innings without allowing a run. And it was his first victory since August 24, 2021.

Buddy Kennedy, called up from Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, provided the offensive spark. He drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and then, with two outs and a runner on in the third, he hit a center-cutter into the left-field seats. His second homer in the big league gave the Tigers a four-run lead.

The Tigers took advantage of Twins’ starter Louie Varland’s command issues. He walked three batters in the first inning, throwing more balls (21) than strikes (18).

Kerry Carpenter singled in one run, extending his hitting streak to seven games and his RBI streak to six games. The RBI streak is the longest by a Tiger since Justin Upton scored in six consecutive runs in 2017.

Spencer Torkelson, still looking for his first homer this season, missed by an inch in the seventh inning. He hit a laser, 110 miles per hour with his bat, which left a mark in the padding on the left field wall. It was his fourth hardest hit ball this season. It ended up being a double, scoring Riley Greene from first.

Torkelson, who also singled, had exit velocities of 102, 104 and 176.5 km/h – three of the 12 hardest balls he has hit this season. His sacrifice fly in the ninth again scored Greene. His 10 RBI this season are second only to Carpenter (13).

Shortstop Javier Baez also had an active game. He walked and stole a base in the second inning. He also advanced to third base on a catch by Jake Rogers, although he stranded. He singled in the fourth, advanced to second base on a fly ball to center and then stole third base.

That’s four extra bases after he initially reached base. He has now successfully stolen 18 regular bags dating back to the end of the 2022 season.

The Twins got on the board against reliever Alex Faedo in the ninth. Martin hit his first pitch into the left seats.

The Tigers will complete the 14-game, 13-day stretch with three games against the Rays in Tampa.

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