Hughes Pitches Twins To 5-3 Win Over Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins aren't picky about how they get on base this season.
And if the most-walked team in the majors can get more starting pitching performances as they did Saturday, the Twins likely won't mind their status as a middle-of-the-pack team when it comes to batting average.
Phil Hughes struck out six in seven innings, Josmil Pinto hit his fifth homer of the season and the Twins scored two runs in the fifth without a hit in their 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
Minnesota looked to be in for a long afternoon after Detroit took an early 2-0 lead and Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez handled the Twins early.
But Sanchez left in the third with a blister on his middle finger on his throwing hand, forcing newly recalled Jose Ortega (0-1) into action.
Ortega, who had just arrived from Triple-A Toledo, and Phil Coke then combined to walk six Twins -- five in the fifth.
A throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday and a bases-loaded walk by Coke allowed Minnesota, hitless at that point, to tie the game.
Minnesota entered the game with a majors-leading 113 walks this season, and added eight more on Saturday.
"As we've talked about many times now, we're taking our walks and getting people on, and you score runs like that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's a good way to go about your business."
Especially with Hughes rolling.
Hughes (2-1) didn't walk a batter, retired 16 straight at one point and has won two straight -- a welcome sight for a Twins rotation that had produced only six quality starts this season.
Although he acknowledged the need for more innings from his starters, Gardenhire preached patience with his rotation earlier in the day, saying the team believes its starting pitchers will do well.
For one afternoon, at least, Hughes gave his manager a glimpse of that.
Trevor Plouffe's two-run single off Coke scored Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier put the Twins ahead for good in the fifth, and Pinto's homer off Al Albuquerque in the eighth provided an insurance run.
Detroit took a first-inning lead after Sam Fuld couldn't hang onto Miguel Cabrera's fly to deep right, allowing Torii Hunter to score from first. Cabrera went to third on Fuld's bad throw and scored on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly.
That was all the Tigers could muster against Hughes, though. The veteran right-hander made efficient work of Detroit's lineup the next six innings. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.
"After the first I was coming apart a little bit, and not really staying within myself, overthrowing a little bit and coming out of my mechanics," Hughes said. "But I was able to settle down pretty quick and get on a little bit of a roll, which was nice."
Martinez led off the ninth with a homer.
Sanchez threw 53 pitches without allowing a hit and was in the middle of Dozier's at-bat when Holaday, head trainer Kevin Rand and pitching coach Jeff Jones went to the mound. Shortly after being joined by Ausmus, Rand and Sanchez walked off the field.
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