Twins slide aside mistakes, injuries to sweep Tigers in doubleheader

Phil Miller, Star Tribune on

Published in Baseball

DETROIT — On a day when they put another of their best players on the injured list, when they fretted about having enough healthy players to effectively compete, the Twins made a well-timed discovery on their roster.

Simeon Woods Richardson looks like a bona fide big leaguer.

The rookie right-hander, given an opportunity via a rainout makeup game to make his first major league start in nearly a year, took advantage by shutting down the Tigers for six solid innings, helping the Twins sweep Saturday's doubleheader with a 4-1 Game 2 victory. The Twins rode a seven-run 12th inning in the first game to pull away with an 11-5 win.

Game 1 was an exercise in mistake-making, with the Tigers providing Minnesota with nine unearned runs, second-most in Twins history. Ryan Jeffers made no mistakes, though, providing the Twins with the third pinch-hit home run of his career to tie the game in the eighth inning, singling home a go-ahead run in the 11th, and then bouncing a chopper between third baseman Zach McKinstry's legs to score three more runs in the 12th.

"Sick. He works so hard and he loves those big moments and delivers often," admired Joe Ryan, who struck out a career-high 12 in his six-inning start. "It was just great to see him have more success and do his thing."

That's what Woods Richardson did in Game 2, in the process earning his first major league win. The right-hander, acquired in 2021 from Toronto in the José Berriós trade, allowed a second-inning run on a pair of singles and a Javier Baez sacrifice fly — but then proceeded to retire the final 14 hitters he faced. As the specially designated extra player for a doubleheader, Woods Richardson must now be returned to Class AAA St. Paul, but after this start, that appears only temporary.

"I watched him pretty closely in spring training, so I saw a lot early on this year," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "His stuff is up and he's looked generally pretty good."


Edouard Julien and Willi Castro made Woods Richardson's task a little easier by hitting home runs to give him a lead. Julien's fourth homer of the year was blasted 400 feet into the Twins' bullpen in left-center, and Castro's two-run shot traveled even farther, landing 413 feet away in right-center.

The win earned the Twins their first doubleheader sweep since Sept. 4, 2020 against the Tigers, after failing to do so in their last 10 doubleheaders. Their last sweep on the road came in Cleveland on Sept. 14, 2019.

But it didn't come easy, not with a wild first game in which the Twins rallied from behind twice, then took advantage of some Tigers misplays to put the game away. The biggest was not a physical error but a mental one by Detroit first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who fielded Christian Vázquez's sacrifice bunt with two runners on base in the 12th inning.

Torkelson tried to get the lead runner at third base, but Byron Buxton easily beat the throw. Reliever Alex Lange then walked Austin Martin to force in the go-ahead run, and Jeffers, on the 12th pitch of his at-bat, hit a chopper that froze McKinstry, who allowed the ball to get past him, scoring three more runs.

The Tigers eventually put McKinstry on the mound to finish the game, and Matt Wallner clubbed a 61-mph pitch into the right field seats to finish off the big inning.

"It was a long game, but it was good to see how we held ourselves. We saw some big [at-bats] from Jeffers — fouls off six pitches, gets that ball in play, scores three, I mean that's huge," Martin said. "That's a game-changer right there. … It was just a great team effort all around."

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