DETROIT (AP) - Paul Molitor provided a pep talk, hoping to help the Minnesota Twins start strong against the Detroit Tigers.
That didn’t work out very well for the manager, or his team.
The Tigers took advantage of some of Minnesota’s mistakes to score in the first inning and went on to win 6-3 Wednesday.
“We talked a lot about the first inning, being ready,” Molitor said. “Some of the basic things that you would hope at this level. We got to catch the ball, hit the cutoff man, all those kind of things that just jump out at you when you’re playing poorly. Give extra bases, extra opportunities. It’s a tough hole to dig for your starting pitcher when you don’t make plays early.”
Justin Verlander struck out 10 batters, including the 2,000th of his career, to help the Tigers win their fourth straight game to equal a season high after losing 11 of 12 games.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is simply struggling.
The Twins have lost 11 of 13, dropping to 10-29 for the worst record in the majors.
“I keep telling the guys we still have a long way to go and stretches like this happen,” Joe Mauer said.
Verlander (3-4) allowed six hits and three runs over 7 1/3 innings while matching his season high in strikeouts. He joined Mickey Lolich as the two pitchers in franchise history with 2,000 career strikeouts, and became the 76th in baseball history to reach the milestone.
“I’ve faced him pretty much my whole career and he’s really evolved into a pitcher,” Mauer said. “When he first started to come up, he was more of a thrower.”
Ricky Nolasco (1-2) gave up nine hits and four runs over five innings.
“Rough day for us again,” Molitor lamented. “I thought Ricky pitched the ball really well. He didn’t get what he deserved in terms of us backing him up, but Verlander had a good day.”
Ian Kinsler did, too.
He went 3 for 4, hitting a solo homer in the sixth and an RBI single in the fourth.
Kinsler and the Tigers made the most of Minnesota’s mistakes, which included three errors.
Kinsler led off the first with an infield single and advanced to second on an errant throw from shortstop Eduardo Nunez. He scored when J.D. Martinez followed with a single and left fielder Eddie Rosario was charged with an error, missing home plate on a throw that should’ve gone to second to prevent Martinez from getting to that base.
“We try to make a Superman play instead of catching the ball and it goes back to everyone trying to do a little bit more than what the play or situation calls for,” Molitor said. “I talked to Eddie about the throw home, first inning. He knows the guy has to freeze on the line drive, but still it was a very, very small percent chance of making a play there. To lose the force and have the guy advance, those are plays that we can’t watch.”
The Twins scored once in the seventh on Danny Santana’s sacrifice fly and twice in the eighth on Trevor Plouffe’s single, giving them a chance to come back.
Francisco Rodriguez, though, pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save in 12 chances.
Twins: IF Eduardo Escobar (strained groin) might come off the DL, which he has been on since May 7, early next week after going to Florida for extended spring training.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene (right middle finger) is scheduled to make a rehab start for Single-A West Michigan on Friday. … The Tigers took DH Victor Martinez out of the lineup to give him an extra day to rest.
Twins: Minnesota sends Ervin Santana (2-1) to the mound at home Thursday against Toronto’s Marco Estrada (1-2).
Tigers: Detroit is off Thursday before hosting Tampa Bay with Anibal Sanchez (3-4) pitching for the Tigers against Matt Andriese (2-0) on Friday night.
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