Twins beat sloppy Tigers 11-7

Published 9:14 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

DETROIT — Starter Nick Blackburn was already done for the night, and with the score tied at 6 in the third inning, the Minnesota Twins needed to figure out a way through the rest of the game.

Reliever Jeff Gray took the mound: groundout, groundout, groundout.

Then Gray came back for the fourth: groundout, flyout, flyout.

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Gray and the bullpen kept the Detroit bats under control, and the Twins went on to win 11-7 on Wednesday night. Jamey Carroll hit a two-run double in the sixth to give Minnesota the lead, and the sloppy Tigers couldn’t overcome their four errors.

After a wild beginning to the game, Gray retired the first six hitters he faced on only 14 pitches.

“Huge,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was getting first-pitch swings, and those were huge, and then a lot of guys came in after that.”

Blackburn was pulled at the end of the second inning, having allowed six runs and six hits. He was bothered by a problem with his left thigh. The Twins also placed catcher Ryan Doumit on the 15-day disabled list after the game because of a strained right calf. They will recall outfielder Ben Revere from Triple-A Rochester for Thursday’s game at Detroit.

Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI double off Gray in the fifth to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead, but Carroll came up with men on first and second an inning later. His double off Duane Below (2-1) scored both runners.

Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer for Minnesota in the second, and Trevor Plouffe’s two-run shot in the ninth made it 11-7.

Minnesota’s Justin Morneau went 1 for 5 with a double in his first game back after being on the disabled list with a sore left wrist.

Alex Burnett (1-0) got the win. He was the second of five Minnesota relievers.

Detroit is 9-16 since a 9-3 start and is now dealing with injuries to closer Jose Valverde (strained lower back) and center fielder Austin Jackson (mild abdominal strain). Both are day to day. Jackson left Wednesday’s game after hitting a flyout in the fourth inning.

“You score seven runs, you have to win the game,” manager Jim Leyland said. “If you don’t, you have problems.”

In a sign of things to come, first baseman Prince Fielder dropped a routine throw with one out in the first. Joe Mauer followed with an RBI double, and shortstop Ramon Santiago’s throw home was wild for another error.

Josh Willingham’s double made it 2-0.

It was 2-1 in the second when second baseman Ryan Raburn’s two-out error kept a Minnesota rally alive. Dozier, the next batter, made it 5-1 with a homer to left.