After a season done in by (among other things) a plethora of little mistakes, the Detroit Tigers finally had a few of those go their way in their home finale against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
Of course, a little home run power never hurts, either.
The Tigers jumped out to a first-inning lead on two errors and a wild pitch by the Twins, then got the eventual winning run on a solo homer by Eric Haase in a 5-2 victory at Comerica Park.
The Tigers (65-93), who head to Seattle for four games (in three days) postponed from April’s first week of the season, have won 10 of their past 12 games, all since hiring Scott Harris as president of baseball operations.
One of Harris’ offseason jobs will be figuring out a rotation decimated by injuries this season; rookie left-hander Joey Wentz made his final audition for a role in 2023 with 4⅔ innings in which he allowed two runs, both unearned, on two hits, with four walks and four strikeouts. The outing lowered his September ERA to 1.73, with 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 16 innings.
Wentz faced an early challenge when Twins shortstop Carlos Correa doubled with one out in the first inning. But Wentz induced a groundout to first (moving Correa to third) and then struck out Gio Urshela to end the threat.
The Tigers got on the board soon after, thanks to a dose of speed from Akil Baddoo. The second-year outfielder — and a former Twins minor-leaguer claimed in the 2020 Rule 5 draft — opened with a walk, then stole second base and advanced to third when Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers flubbed the throw. After Riley Greene lined out to first, with a scorching 108.1 mph exit velocity, Haase delivered a run with much less solid contact. His 64.5 mph check-swing the opposite way against the shift skipped by first baseman Jose Miranda and into right field, scoring Baddoo easily.
After a Miguel Cabrera single sent Haase to third, the catcher dashed home on a wild pitch by rookie Simeon Woods Richardson (acquired by the Twins from Toronto in last season's Jose Berrios deal) to make it 2-0, Tigers. Cabrera was then cut down on a double play after Jonathan Schoop flied out to left.
The Twins got a pair of runs back on Tigers miscues in the fifth inning, as Jeffers led off the frame with a shot to left misplayed by Baddoo for an error. A pair of one-out walks loaded the bases and brought pitching coach Chris Fetter to the mound to calm Wentz.
But it was to no avail, as Wentz walked Correa to make it 3-1; a sac fly by Nick Gordon to Baddoo brought in the Twins’ second run and ended Wentz’s afternoon. Right-hander Will Vest, who had struggled with home runs of late, kept the ball in the park this time; after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Vest got Urshela to fly out to right.
From there, the Tigers’ stout bullpen took it home, with scoreless innings from Garrett Hill, Jason Foley and Alex Lange covering the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Closer Gregory Soto, making his second appearance of the series, finished the victory for the Tigers for his 30th save of the season. Soto struck out the side to become the first Tiger with 30 saves since Shane Greene had 32 in 2018.
A former member of the Tigers’ bullpen wasn’t as sharp, however: Michael Fulmer, dealt to the Twins at the Aug. 2 trade deadline, surrendered a solo home run to Victor Reyes in the eighth. Reyes absolutely crushed the 93.4 mph slider from Fulmer, launching the 3-1 pitch to right-center with a 110 mph exit velocity. Fulmer then give up a single by Baddoo, a walk to Greene and, after a infield fly by Haase, a single by Cabrera to add another run before Schoop flied out.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Tigers get key errors, back them with HRs in 5-2 win over Twins