The pitching match-up for this one was not favorable. It was injury replacement 5th starter Eddie Bonine versus Tiger killer Carl Pavano. But we are constantly reminded that pitching matchups in baseball are overrated and tonight was another example. Bonine held the Twins to two runs in five innings and the bullpen kept the Twins scoreless the rest of the way as the Tigers topped the Twins 7-2. Credit also needs to be given to Zach Miner who continued his good pitching of late with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
The game did not get off to a good start for the Tigers. In the first inning, Bonine allowed four hits and a walk and Curtis Granderson misplayed a fly ball for the second straight night. With two runs in, the Twins had the bases loaded and one out, Bonine was laboring and there was already action in the Tigers bullpen. Then, all of the sudden, things got better. Delmon Young hit a hard shot on one hop to Placido Polanco and the Tigers second baseman started a double play. There is no telling how the game would have turned out if the ball had been hit a couple feet to the left or right. As it turned out, the Twins would not a score another run the rest of the night.
Pavano, who came into the game with a 1.40 ERA in five starts versus the Tigers this year, retired the Tigers 1-2-3 in the first. But when you face a pitcher as much as the Tigers have faced Pavano this year, sooner or later you'll figure him out. The Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the second and, unlike the last time they faced Pavano, they made good use of their base runners. Brandon Inge drilled a two run double to tie the score at two and Ramon Santiago lined a one out two run single to make it 4-2.
The Tigers loaded the bases again in the fifth and this time Magglio Ordonez delivered a bases clearing double to give the Tigers a 7-2 lead. That would be it for Pavano, the man who was acquired by the Twins before the deadline in part because of his success versus the Tigers.
The victory gives the Tigers a three game lead over the Twins and reduces the magic number to two. They can clinch their first divisional title since 1987 with a win tomorrow. It will be Nate Robertson versus Scott Baker at 1:00 PM.