MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Marwin Gonzalez singled home Willians Astudillo in the eighth inning, and the Minnesota Twins rallied to beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 and sweep Friday’s doubleheader.
Astudillo served as Minnesota’s automatic runner at second in the eighth inning of the seven-inning game. Gonzalez hit a grounder up the middle, and Detroit center fielder Derek Hill, making his major league debut, bobbled the ball, allowing Astudillo to score easily.
Sergio Romo (1-1) pitched a perfect seventh and Trevor May picked up his second save in four chances as Minnesota won its fourth straight game.
Adding to the oddity of playing the eighth as an extra inning and having a runner start on second base, the Twins were the road team for the second game. The game was originally postponed in Detroit on Aug. 28 due to inclement weather.
“Circumstances, they are a little crazy, a little odd,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You’re reminding yourself what inning it is. You’re reminding yourself that if you score and go ahead, that the game’s not over. You do have to remind yourself of a few things. I don’t think our guys let anything get to them.”
Joe Jimenez (1-3) allowed Gonzalez’s hit to take the loss after Gregory Soto blew a save in the seventh. Soto walked the first two batters of the inning and Jorge Polanco followed with an RBI single.
“He’s been fine,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said of Soto. “He’s just misfiring. His arm slot wasn’t working today. He threw some good pitches. He tried some breaking balls, they were just really not there. The only issue with him is not stuff at all, it’s whether he can control himself and throw the ball over the plate.”
Miguel Cabrera had a pair of hits for Detroit and three hits in the doubleheader, tying Brooks Robinson for 48th on the career list with 2,848.
Jonathan Schoop added an RBI triple for the Tigers, but he was left stranded as the runner at second in the bottom of the eighth.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Schoop said. “But they scored. Polanco had a good at-bat. They scored to tie the game but you’ve got to forget about it and come back tomorrow.”
Brent Rooker singled in Polanco in the third for his first major league hit and RBI for the Twins.
“I felt comfortable at the plate all day,” Rooker said. “I was happy with the swings I took, the approach I had, I thought my timing was pretty good. Being able to get on base, however it was, whether it was HBP, or whatever, the first at-bat kind of lightens the load a little bit and takes some pressure off, eases your mind.”
Polanco and Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back homers to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and Randy Dobnak (6-2) bounced back with five scoreless innings as Minnesota won the opener 2-0.
Polanco and Donaldson became the first duo to lead off the game with homers for the Twins since Eduardo Núñez and Brian Dozier in 2016 against Kansas City.
Detroit starter Matt Boyd (1-5) allowed consecutive leadoff homers for the third time in less than a month. He also gave up back-to-back home runs to the Chicago White Sox to start games on Aug. 12 and 17.
Before the first game, Minnesota placed outfielder Max Kepler on the 10-day injured list with a left adductor strain. Baldelli said the injury is considered minor and Kepler is likely to return after the 10 days expire.
The Twins selected the contract of Rooker, the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft by Minnesota, to take Kepler’s spot on the active roster. Rooker has hit .267 with 54 home runs in 259 career minor league games.
Tigers: INF Niko Goodrum missed both games and his third in a row with a sore right side. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the team wants to be cautious with Goodrum and avoid a stint on the injured list. INF Sergio Alcantara was added to the roster as the 29th man for the doubleheader.
Twins: C Alex Avila was taken out of the second game in the third inning with low back tightness. The issue caused him to be scratched before Wednesday’s game as well. … 2B Luis Arraez missed both games with continued patellar soreness in his left knee. Baldelli said Arraez is not expected to land on the injured list, but the injury will need to be managed. … C Mitch Garver has started baseball activity as he recovers from a right intercostal strain. Garver has been out since Aug. 19.
Minnesota RHP Kenta Maeda (4-1, 2.53 ERA) starts Saturday evening against the Tigers, who counter with rookie LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 6.75). Maeda allowed three runs in six innings in a loss to Detroit in his last start. Skubal earned his first major league victory against the Twins in his last start, giving up two runs in five innings.
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