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The Sports Xchange, Published April 26 2014

Hughes helps Twins defeat Tigers

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Twins only had four hits Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Starting pitcher Phil Hughes made sure they didn’t need any more.

The Twins took advantage of a wild Tiger bullpen, which walked five Minnesota hitters in the fifth inning, in a 5-3 victory over Detroit at sunny Target Field.

Hughes gave up two hits and two runs in the first inning, staking the Tigers to a 2-0 lead.

Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez appeared to be on his game early, but was forced to give way to the bullpen in the third inning because of a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand.

In the fifth, the Twins, still without a hit, took advantage.

Tigers reliever Jose Ortega walked the first two men he faced before Minnesota pushed their first run across on a throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday. On a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Eduardo Escobar, Holaday’s throw to third sailed into left field, allowing right fielder Sam Fuld to score.

Another walk loaded the bases and Ortega was lifted for Phil Coke, who walked first baseman Joe Mauer on four pitches, tying the game, 2-2.

“It’s a tough spot; it’s a tough spot for the entire bullpen,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We were a little bit strapped going into today as it was and then the injury strapped us even more. It was a tough spot, but we stayed in the game.”

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe ripped a 3-and-1 pitch up the middle for a two-run single, Minnesota’s first hit of the day, giving the Twins a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“We’re just going up there trying to keep the line moving,” Plouffe said. “The old saying, ‘You’re not going to hit a three-run homer with nobody on base,’ so don’t try. We did that again today. Just trying to make the pitchers work and get a pitch to hit.”

After the rocky first inning, Hughes (2-1) was on cruise control, retiring 16 straight batters through the middle innings in his most effective start to date. He allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings, striking out six and walking none in his second straight quality start.

“I was able to settle down pretty quick and get on a roll, which was nice,” Hughes said. “I was able to get ahead of most of the guys and throw some decent cutters. My four-seamer was pretty good and I threw a couple breaking balls when I needed to.”

Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “We needed those innings and he gave them to us.”

DET ab r h bi MIN ab r h bi

Kinsler 2b 4 0 0 0 Dozier 2b 2 1 0 0

Hunter rf 4 1 3 0 Mauer dh 2 0 0 1

Cabrera 1b 4 1 1 1 Plouffe 3b 2 0 1 2

Martinz dh 3 1 1 2 Flormon ss 1 0 0 0

Jackson cf 4 0 2 0 Colbllo 1b 3 0 0 0

Cstllns 3b 4 0 0 0 Kubel lf 4 0 0 0

Romine ss 3 0 0 0 Pinto c 3 1 1 1

Martinz ph 1 0 0 0 Fuld rf 3 1 1 0

Holaday c 2 0 0 0 Hicks cf 3 1 1 0

Avila ph 1 0 0 0 Escobar ss 3 1 0 0

Davis lf 3 0 1 0

Totals 33 3 8 3 Totals 26 5 4 4

Detroit 200 000 001 — 3

Minnesota 000 040 01x — 5

E—Fuld 1, Holaday 1. LOB—Minnesota 7, Detroit 5. 2B—Mi.Cabrera (7), Fuld (4), A.Hicks (3), Tr.Hunter (6), A.Jackson (6). HR—V.Martinez (4), Pinto (5). SB—Fuld (1), A.Jackson (2). CS—Dozier (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

Detroit

A.Sanchez 2 Xc 0 0 0 2 2

Ortega L, 0-1 1 Zc 0 4 4 4 1

Coke 2 Xc 2 0 0 2 2

Alburquerque 1 Zc 2 1 1 0 4

Minnesota

P.Hughes W, 2-1 7 4 2 1 0 6

Burton H, 4 1 2 0 0 1 0

Perkins S, 6 1 2 1 1 0 2

Inherited runners-scored—Coke 3-3. HBP—Plouffe (by Ortega). WP—Coke (1).

Umpires—Home, Dan Bellino; First, Tom Woodring; Second, Brian O’Nora; Third, D.J. Reyburn.

T—3:13. A—28,122 (42,035)