MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins are going down swinging.
The Twins struck out another 14 times in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, the 61st time this season they have fanned at least 10 times in a game.
Josh Willingham and Clete Thomas each struck out three times, and the Twins' final six outs of the game came on whiffs as they failed to keep the Tigers from clinching a postseason spot. The Twins set their franchise record for strikeouts long ago and have now struck out 1,369 times this season, which passes the 2012 Astros for the seventh-most in major league history.
``Swinging and missing is one thing,' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Taking pitches for called third strikes is the disappointing part. Those are the things we really, really have to make adjustments on.'
Doug Fister (14-9) struck out seven and gave up two runs on eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. Bruce Rondon, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 2 because of elbow issues, blew away all three Twins he faced in the eighth and Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the ninth for his 23rd save.
``Every time we got men up there,' Gardenhire lamented. ``Too many strikeouts.'
The Twins struck out 17 times in the series opener against Justin Verlander and the rest of the Tigers pitching staff on Monday night, then were completely befuddled by Fister.
Scott Diamond (6-12) gave up four runs on nine hits in 6 1-3 innings and Ryan Doumit homered for Minnesota.
Victor Martinez and Omar Infante went back-to-back and Austin Jackson hit a two-run homer later in the fourth to put the Tigers in front.
The Tigers entered needing a victory and a loss by the Indians to win the division. For a moment, it looked as though this was going to be Detroit's night when the White Sox homered twice in the top of the ninth to take a 4-3 lead over the Indians. But Jason Giambi hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the inning to keep the Indians alive in the division race.
The Tigers, swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series last season, would like to clinch as soon as possible to allow them to give star slugger Miguel Cabrera a few days off to rest a sore groin.
Cabrera sat out Sunday, but has gutted through the first two games at Target Field to try to put this division race away. He went 0 for 4 and could barely make it down the first base line on his two groundouts, but the rest of the Tigers' lineup came up with just enough muscle in support of their ailing cleanup hitter.
``On a night when you can keep Cabrera 0 for 4 and keep (Prince) Fielder to a single, normally that's a pretty good night,' Diamond said. ``But it just wasn't the case tonight.'
Manager Jim Leyland said before the game that his loaded lineup needed to start putting up big run totals on a more consistent basis as October looms. He's watched his powerful offense follow up big nights at the plate with underwhelming performances this season.
``We need to score more runs,' he said. ``Plain and simple.'
They didn't get off to a good start when they failed to score after loading the bases with no outs in the second inning against Diamond. But the Tigers finally got to the Canadian lefty in the fourth when Martinez led off with a liner into the left-field seats. Infante followed with a solo shot of his own and Jackson launched his 12th homer into the left-center bullpen for a 4-1 lead.
``Everything kind of just comes in clumps for me,' Diamond said. ``That's just the way it's been this season. I've been consistently bad for one inning.'
NOTES: Trevor Plouffe had two hits, his 25th multihit game of the season. ... Martinez's homer extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Chris Parmelee had three hits for the Twins. ... RHP Max Scherzer (20-3, 3.00 ERA) pitches for the Tigers on Wednesday night against Minnesota RHP Kevin Correia (9-12, 4.29).
The Associated Press News Service
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