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Tigers make costly mistakes in one-run loss to Twins

The cold bats are nothing new, but the defensive lapses are a concerning development.

The Minnesota Twins scored two unearned runs in the fifth inning en route to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The Tigers (11-10) and Twins (7-12) play the rubber match of their three-game series on Sunday.

The Tigers, who had one of the league’s top-rated defenses for much of the season, have now committed nine errors in their last four games.

For a club that only seems to play close games, the mistakes have been crucial.

The Twins never landed a big blow against Tigers starter Reese Olson, but came away slowly, scoring three of their four runs on sacrifice flies. They capitalized on errors by shortstop Javier Baez and first baseman Spencer Torkelson in the fifth. Torkelson botched a grounder that could have produced at least one out and set up a potential double play to end the inning.

“We don’t have to play perfect to win. Right now we can’t afford this kind of thing.” Tigers manager AJ Hinch told Bally Sports Detroit and other reporters after the match.

Twins starter Bailey Ober, who threw six scoreless innings against the Tigers six days ago, was just as good on Saturday. He allowed one run on two hits and struck out six.

“He has a great extension and he stormed the offensive zone to put us in bad numbers,” Hinch said.

The Tigers got on board in the sixth when Riley Greene walked and rookie Wenceel Perez tripled him. An RBI double by Baez accounted for another run in the seventh, but the Tigers stranded two runners in scoring position. A two-out single by Kerry Carpenter brought the Tigers to within one run in the eighth.

Tigers Relievers, who showed up this year with an ERA of 1.43 in 75 1/3 innings, gave the Tigers another chance to get back into the game. Joey Wentz and Alex Lange combined for three scoreless innings.

Newly arrived Tigers infielder Buddy Kennedy, recalled from Triple-A Toledo when Gio Urshela was placed on the injured list, walked a nine-pitch walk as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.

The Tigers are now 6-4 in one-run games this year.

BOX SCORE

Next one: The Tigers and Twins conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 2:10 PM Eastern Time.

Tigers right-hander Casey Mize (0-0, 4.11 ERA) will face Twins right-hander Louie Varland (0-3, 8.36).

Mize allowed two runs on five hits over six innings in a win over the Texas Rangers on April 16. He struck out six without a walk. It was his longest outing since August 30, 2021, his last start before the Tigers began reducing his workload that year. He made just two starts in 2022 and then missed all of 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

After an encouraging rookie season in 2023, Varland has opened the 2024 season with three straight shaky starts.

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Varland was drafted in the 15th round by the Twins in 2019.