Pineda stays sharp as Twins beat Tigers 6-2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ryan Jeffers hit his first major league homer to spark Minnesota’s four-run third inning, and Michael Pineda stayed sharp in his return from suspension by finishing seven innings for the Twins in a 6-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Pineda (1-0) allowed two runs and three hits, struck out eight and walked two in his first victory since Sept. 1, 2019. After serving a 60-game penalty for taking a banned weight-loss drug, Pineda debuted last week with six innings and a no-decision as the Twins beat Chicago. He worked through this start as a steady rain fell over the last four innings.
“I’m feeling very proud of myself because that’s what we want, just trying to work longer in the game and give everything I’ve got every five to six days,” said Pineda, who has a 2.77 ERA through two turns. He went 7-1 with a 2.76 ERA over his last 11 starts before the suspension.
“There’s not a lot of room or time to just figure things out and just kind of settle back in,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Big Mike has been ready to go from the first pitch he returned, and I don’t know if every guy does it that easily.”
Jeffers crushed a full-count fastball from Michael Fulmer (0-1) into the juniper wall behind center field, an estimated distance of 437 feet. Fulmer recorded only one out in the third, with the Tigers continuing to ease the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and 2017 All-Star into action after he missed the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.
Fulmer lost to the Twins for the first time in his career. He was 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his first five starts against them, but he left the bases loaded for Daniel Norris and was charged with four runs and four hits despite feeling he had an improved grasp of his pitches.
“Although it was a rough one today, I feel like it was a step in the right direction,” Fulmer said.
Eddie Rosario greeted Norris with a three-run double, before his latest lackadaisical move on the basepaths led to him getting caught in a rundown between second and third.
Byron Buxton homered in the eighth and Taylor Rogers struck out the side in the ninth for the Twins (26-17), who improved to 18-5 at home. They pulled within one game of first-place Chicago (26-15) in the AL Central, with Cleveland in between.
Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and scored both runs for the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera struck out twice, stopping a 13-game hitting streak that was his longest in five years.