DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Tigers insist they haven’t given up, though they are playing for little more than pride and perhaps their manager’s job.
Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning to lift Detroit to a 4-2 win yesterday over the Minnesota Twins.
The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep after losing 11 of 13 this month.
“I don’t think anybody has quit,” Monroe said. “We’re just going through a rough time. We owe it to ourselves and our fans to play as hard as we can the rest of the season so that everybody can have something to look forward to by the time spring training rolls around.”
Curtis Granderson’s two-run homer in the third gave the Tigers a lead they clung to until the eighth, when Michael Cuddyer’s two-out single tied the score at two.
Craig Dingman (2-2) got the final four outs for the victory.
“The wins have been hard to come by, and today was no different,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said.
While there is speculation that Trammell will – or should – be fired, and sports-talk shows are filled with callers saying the former Tigers great should be replaced, he has accepted at least some of the responsibility for what has been a disappointing season.
Victories such as the one over the Twins give Trammell confidence, however, that his players have not quit.
“We’re not mailing it in,” he said.
Losing pitcher Juan Rincon (6-5) entered the game in the eighth and gave up three singles and a walk in the inning.
Detroit starter Sean Douglass allowed one run, four hits and a walk in six innings. Jamie Walker gave up one hit in the seventh and Chris Spurling retired the only two batters he faced in the eighth.
Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano gave up two runs, two hits and a walk while striking out six over five innings in his first major league start. The highly touted prospect – the starting pitcher for the World Team in the Futures Game in Detroit during All-Star week – made his major league debut earlier this month with his first of two relief appearances.
“The nerves have gone away,” Liriano said. “I feel better now.”
Minnesota lefty Johan Santana, who was scheduled to pitch, had his start pushed back to Saturday because of a blister on his middle finger.
Liriano showed why the Twins are excited about him.
With a mid-90s fastball, changeup and slider, he retired his first seven batters, striking out four in a row, before Vance Wilson walked and Granderson homered to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the third.
“Tough loss for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We pitched good enough to win. We didn’t score enough runs.”
Liriano was acquired in a trade with San Francisco after the 2003 season along with two-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan and right-hander Boof Bonser for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
“What a trade they made getting Nathan and Liriano and another guy that led the International League in strikeouts,” Trammell said. “They got three quality players for A.J. Pierzynski.