Jake Odorizzi stretched his scoreless streak to 20 innings with seven frames of one-hit ball, Max Kepler and Mitch Garver homered, and the thriving Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 6-0 Friday night.
Odorizzi (5-2) retired his last 20 batters after a first-inning double by Christin Stewart, striking out five without a walk while lowering his ERA to a career-best 2.32. The right-hander beat the Yankees in New York with six shutout innings last weekend and defeated the Houston Astros with seven scoreless innings in his turn before that. He has surrendered just seven hits over those three starts.
The Twins (24-12) have the best record in the majors, backed by a surging rotation and a lineup that’s suddenly full of sluggers.
Garver, part of a trio of catchers who have collectively been the most productive offensively in baseball this season, hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Tyson Ross (1-5) for his eighth shot in 21 games. Kepler went deep in the fifth for the Twins, who entered the night ranked fourth in the majors in homers.
The Tigers, who were shutout for the second straight game and an American League-most fifth time this season, have the second-fewest home runs in the majors with just one by 11-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera.
Detroit’s rotation has been decent, but Ross has been bogging it down. The right-hander gave up six runs in five innings with four walks and one hit batter with only two strikeouts, pushing his ERA up to 6.11. He has allowed four runs or more in each of his last five starts.
As Marwin Gonzalez beat out an infield single in the sixth, Ross threw wildly past first baseman Niko Goodrum, who bruised Gonzalez’s face with his leg as he descended from his jump to try to catch the ball. Goodrum bruised his right knee. Both players left the game.
STARTING TO FILL UP
The announced attendance was 26,789, the second-largest of the season at Target Field with a first-pitch temperature of 60 degrees and ample sunshine. The Twins held a flash sale this week for their 12 remaining games in May, with $5 seats available in the upper deck outfield sections without processing fees. They sold 20,000 in about 20 hours. Then another 12,000 standing room tickets were snatched up in less than a day.
With a season ticket base eroded by fan apathy from an average of 91 losses over the previous eight seasons, just one postseason appearance since 2010 and no postseason series won since 2002, the Twins played in front of the eight smallest crowds in Target Field history — all under 15,000 — over their first 15 home games. Cold, damp April weather didn’t help. The Twins entered the weekend ranked 23rd out of 30 major league teams in average attendance (16,843 tickets sold per game).
Tigers: Stewart, making his first start since April 17 after suffering a strained right quadriceps, batted second for his highest position in the lineup this season.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano has been moved up to Triple-A Rochester on his extended rehab assignment for a severe cut on his right heel that has kept him out all season. Manager Rocco Baldelli wouldn’t put a timetable on his return, but he made next week sound realistic.
The Tigers will start RHP Spencer Turnbull (2-2, 2.31 ERA), who has allowed only two earned runs and 14 hits over his last 24 innings, in the split doubleheader on Saturday that was scheduled to make up the April 12 matchup postponed by wintry weather. LHP Gregory Soto was slated to make his major league debut while taking the mound in the second game.
RHP Michael Pineda (2-3, 6.09 ERA), who has only one quality start of six innings or more and three runs or fewer out of seven turns this season, will pitch the first game for the Twins. RHP Kohl Stewart (0-1, 7.50 ERA) will be promoted from Triple-A Rochester to start the nightcap.