Deduno pitches Twins past struggling Tigers 9-3
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Life as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues can be a drag. At-bats are sporadic, starts are rare and staying sharp can be challenging.
Darin Mastroianni knows this all too well, and is finally making the adjustment.
Mastroianni and Ryan Doumit each homered and drove in three runs, Samuel Deduno pitched into the eighth inning and the Minnesota Twins beat the struggling Detroit Tigers 9-3 Monday night to snap a four-game skid.
"It's hard when you're not playing every day. You're not used to doing that, then you have to go face big league pitching after not playing for four days," Mastroianni said. "But at the same time, it gives me a chance to learn a lot and regroup. It is a decent way to work your way through the big leagues."
Deduno (4-0) held Detroit hitless through four innings and retired nine of 10 batters before getting into trouble in the eighth. The 29-year-old right-hander struck out six and remained undefeated in seven career starts.
Doumit broke it open with a three-run homer off reliever Duane Below that made it 8-1 in the seventh. Joe Mauer added three hits to raise his average to .321.
Miguel Cabrera got his 99th RBI for Detroit, which has lost three straight and five of six.
"We got our butts kicked today. That's the best way I can put it," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said.
Mastroianni gave the Twins a 2-1 lead with a solo homer in the fifth. The soaring fly ball bounced off the top of the left-center wall — just over the glove of a leaping Andy Dirks — and into the stands.
It wasn't the only fortunate bounce the Twins got.
With runners on first and third and one run already home in the Detroit fifth, Dirks lined a pitch off Deduno's glove that ricocheted to second baseman Alexi Casilla, who caught it and doubled off Omar Infante at first to end the inning.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (1-3) took a grounder off his left knee in the first, but stayed in the game. He allowed five runs and 12 hits over 5 1-3 innings.
The right-hander has an 8.41 ERA since being acquired in a trade with Florida on July 23.
"I certainly know that he's a better pitcher than he's shown so far," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Detroit's offense, which had at least 10 hits in eight of 11 August games entering Monday, couldn't figure out Deduno's cutter and mixture of off-speed stuff until it was too late.
"He had some nasty stuff and was kind of effectively wild today," Avila said. "We just couldn't square him up."
The Tigers could have had one more hit, but Mastroianni made a diving catch to rob Prince Fielder in the eighth.
"Mastroianni, what can you say about him?" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He made a great play and offensively he was all over the place, running around."
Mostly an afterthought when the season started, Deduno has managed control issues to become an effective starter for the Twins.
Through seven innings, he allowed only one run on two hits and pitched around five walks.
He left to a standing ovation with two on and nobody out in the eighth. One of those runners eventually scored, bringing his final line to three runs on five hits over seven-plus innings.
"He was buckling some guys over on that side," Gardenhire said. "That's not the norm for the Detroit Tigers. He was throwing some breaking balls, they were swinging and the ball was just disappearing. That tells you a lot about his stuff."
Minnesota's offense, which has been one of the AL's best since the All-Star break, pounded out 18 hits and didn't even need one from Trevor Plouffe.
Second on the team with 19 home runs, Plouffe had been sidelined since July 20. He returned from a bruised thumb and was the only Twins starter to go hitless.
It was the sixth time in seven games that the Tigers allowed double-digit hits and the third time this month they gave up 17 hits or more.
NOTES: To make room for Plouffe, the Twins sent middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka back to Triple-A Rochester. The former Japanese league batting champion went 0 for 12 with three errors at second base plus a number of other blunders in the field during his week in the majors. ... Below was optioned to Triple-A Toledo after the game. Right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen will be recalled for his second stint with the Tigers. ... Leyland said an MRI on reliever Brayan Villarreal's sore right elbow revealed no damage. Villarreal wasn't available after pitching the previous two games, including Sunday's 8-3 loss to Texas in which he threw two wild pitches and said his elbow felt weak. ... X-rays were negative on Twins CF Denard Span's right shoulder. Span left Sunday's game against Tampa Bay after landing on the shoulder trying to make a diving catch in the sixth. He didn't play Monday and is day to day. ... Minnesota lefty Brian Duensing (2-7) faces Doug Fister (6-7) on Tuesday. Duensing allowed 11 hits and six runs in his last start, a 6-2 loss to Cleveland. Fister has won five of his last seven starts, pitching at least six innings in each outing.