Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kinsler's four RBIs help Tigers trip Nolasco, Twins

 If the 39-degree temperature at first pitch and damp, blustery conditions on Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park weren't inhospitable enough for the Twins, the Tigers' bats were. What began as a pitching duel between former Marlins teammates Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolascoturned one-sided with nine Tigers runs from the third through fifth innings en route to an 11-0 Detroit win.
Nolasco retired six of the first seven he faced, then just three of the next 12. The bottom of the order proved to be his undoing, setting the tone for the Tigers offense on the day. Alex Avila drew leadoff walks in the third and fourth innings, then a one-out walk in the fifth. Jose Iglesias had a career-high 4-for-4 performance. The two combined for seven runs. Add in James McCann's pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth, and the bottom two hitters in the order reached base safely 10 times.
The top of the Tigers' order was the beneficiary. Ian Kinsler drove in two with a two-run single in the third inning, then Anthony Gose chased Nolasco with a two-run triple in the fourth.
Sanchez retired his first six batters before giving up an Oswaldo Arcia single leading off the third. The difference was that nothing blossomed from there. Nor did Joe Mauer's one-out single in the fourth inning. Even Jordan Schafer's leadoff double in the sixth went unrewarded once Sanchez retired the top of the Twins' lineup in order
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sanchez shines in cold: With Justin Verlander on the disabled list, and Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello elsewhere, the Tigers need front-line performance from Sanchez, now the No. 2 starter behind David Price. Sanchez, who doesn't like pitching in cold weather, delivered with 6 2/3 scoreless innings on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Three of his strikeouts came with runners on base, including a swing-and-miss from Danny Santana following Schafer's leadoff double in the sixth.
Nolasco struggles in season debut: After his down year in 2014 that saw him post a 5.38 ERA in 27 starts, Nolasco wasn't any better in his '15 debut. The right-hander lasted just three-plus innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks. It marked the second-shortest start for Nolasco since he joined the team last year.
In the zone: Iglesias went 7-for-52 in Spring Training as he tried to get his timing back at the plate from a lost 2014 season. After two regular-season games, he's a hit away from matching that total. His damage on Wednesday included a double to the left-field fence, an infield single to third and a ground ball past a diving Mauer at first base.
Scoreless streak continues: Minnesota's previous record for scoreless innings to open a season was 11 in 1988, but the Twins cruised right past that by getting shut out for the second straight game to begin 2015. Dating to the last game of the season in '14, the Twins have gone 28 innings without scoring a run. They've also yet to have a runner reach third base this season.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Avila's three-walk game is the fourth of his career, but his first since 2012. He actually has twice as many three-walk games as he does four-hit games.
The Twins became the first American League team to be shut out in back-to-back games to open the season since the 1977 Seattle Mariners.
INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT
The Twins intentionally walked Victor Martinez twice before the game got out of hand, opting to take their chances with J.D. Martinez behind him and runners on base. Both times, they escaped, though J.D. Martinez just missed a pitch on a third-inning flyout to left and hit a well-struck line drive to third base an inning later. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is hitting J.D. Martinez ahead ofYoenis Cespedes for his ability to do damage for power.
WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson is set to make his season debut vs. the Tigers on Thursday at Comerica Park at 12:08 p.m. CT. Gibson faced Detroit five times last year, going 2-3 with a 6.00 ERA. He's looking to improve his consistency this year, as he finished with a 4.47 ERA, but had a 1.42 ERA in his 13 wins and an 11.04 ERA in his 12 losses.
Tigers: Shane Greene will make his Tigers debut in the series finale against the Twins on Thursday at 1:08 p.m. ET. It'll be the first meeting with Minnesota for Greene, who made 14 starts for the Yankees last summer before coming to Detroit in a December trade for Robbie Ray.

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