By: Sam Ekstrom | KFAN.com
For the second game in a row against Detroit, a crazy sixth inning turned the tide of the game.
Friday night, the Tigers scored four in the top of the sixth to take a commanding lead. On Saturday, it was the Twins that swung the momentum in their favor.
After Chris Parmelee gunned down Prince Fielder at the plate in the top of the sixth inning, Minnesota scored three times in the bottom half of the frame to break a 2-2 tie.
Brian Dozier hit a go-ahead RBI single and Joe Mauer contributed a two-out, two-run single of his own to give Minnesota the lead permanently. The Twins went on to win 6-3.
The throwout by Parmelee was the turning point. The right-fielder played a Don Kelly single and fired home as Fielder barreled toward catcher Ryan Doumit. Fielder appeared to miss the plate as he slid by and Doumit tagged him on the left hip.
“That’s huge,” said manager Ron Gardenhire. “Those are big plays. That’s what it’s all about.”
It was Parmelee’s sixth outfield assist of the year, putting him in second place amongst right fielders.
Fresh off a stint on the disabled list, Trevor Plouffe celebrated his 27th birthday in style. The third baseman returned to the Twins’ lineup after a 26-day layoff and had a huge game. Plouffe went 3-for-3 with a walk, a two-run homer, and three RBIs.
“It’s just good to be back,” said Plouffe. “I’ve been itching to be back with the boys, especially this series against the Tigers.”
Plouffe’s home run tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning against Tigers’ starter Anibal Sanchez, who left later in the inning with shoulder stiffness.
The 27-year-old Plouffe continued to excel on his day of birth. Last season, Plouffe homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on his 26th birthday.
“He stepped right back in there,” said Gardenhire. “His swing looked good.”
Detroit scored first off Twins’ starter Samuel Deduno (3-1). With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on base, Jhonny Peralta sent a broken-bat single up the middle to bring in both baserunners.
That was all the Tigers would be able to conjure against Deduno on a night when the right-hander was as sharp—and as accurate—as he’d been all season.
Deduno completed seven innings for the second time this year, allowing just two runs. But more impressively, he stayed ahead in the count on a vast majority of hitters.
The Dominican native threw 20 of 28 first-pitch strikes and delivered a 68.8 percent majority of strikes, the third highest percentage of his Twins’ career.
“Everything was working,” said Deduno. “The key, like I say: get ahead.”
After Plouffe’s bomb tied the game in the fourth inning, the Twins—as Deduno put it—“got ahead” in the sixth against Tigers’ reliever Darin Downs (0-2).
Plouffe doubled to begin the half-inning, advanced to third on a Parmelee single, and scored on Dozier’s RBI single. After a sac bunt by Florimon and a strikeout by former Tiger Clete Thomas, Mauer sliced a 1-1 pitch into left field to give the Twins a three-run edge.
“Huge hit to open it up for us a little bit,” Gardenhire said about Mauer’s single.
Plouffe made a bid at a second two-run homer in the seventh. His line drive off pitcher Evan Reed hit the top of the wall and scored Oswaldo Arcia from second base, but Plouffe was thrown out trying to earn a double.
Detroit scored an unearned run off Jared Burton in the top of the eighth inning, setting up Glen Perkins for a save situation in the ninth. Perkins recorded his 16th save in one-two-three fashion.
The Twins and Tigers play the rubber match of the series at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday.
NOTES: Twins outfielders have the most outfield assists in baseball (22)… Pedro Florimon threw out Don Kelly at the plate in the third inning, the first of two successful plays at the plate for the Twins’ defense… Plouffe now has a nine-game hitting streak dating back to May 12.