MINNEAPOLIS — Michael Pineda’s return to Target Field didn’t go as he planned.
A member of the Minnesota Twins for three seasons, Pineda took the mound at the place he used to call home Wednesday for the Detroit Tigers. But the Twins were ready for him, crushing three home runs in five innings.
One long ball would’ve been enough.
The Tigers lost to the Twins, 5-0, in the second of three games.
Detroit’s hitters combined for two hits and one walk, as Twins right-hander Joe Ryan fired seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. Robbie Grossman was the only Tiger to reach second base, as he doubled in the ninth inning. The Tigers (6-11) have dropped four games in a row.
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Facing Pineda, the Twins tallied four runs on their three homers.
Max Kepler blasted a solo home run to left-center in the second inning on Pineda’s 88.4 mph fastball on a 1-0 count. Kepler, again, went deep to center for a solo shot in the fourth inning, belting an 85.4 mph changeup in another 1-0 count.
In the sixth, Ryan Jeffers drilled a two-run homer. Pineda got ahead 0-2 in the count with back-to-back fastballs that were fouled off, but his fifth-pitch 90.1 mph fastball sailed over the left-field wall.
The homers totaled 1,201 feet.
Ryan, making the ninth start of his MLB career, dominated. His blemishes were a second-inning walk to Spencer Torkelson and fourth-inning single to Miguel Cabrera.
Torkelson drew a seven-pitch walk, while Cabrera drilled a first-pitch slider for a single into left field.
Ryan, 25, primarily relied on his fastball and slider. His fastball, in particular, kept the Tigers from getting comfortable. The offering produced nine of his 15 swings and misses, along with 11 of his 15 called strikes.
Although Pineda hung around for five innings, he allowed four runs on seven hits (three homers). He didn’t concede a walk and struck out two batters, throwing 47 of 65 pitches for strikes.
For his 65 pitches, Pineda used 40 four-seam fastballs (62%), 15 sliders (23%) and 10 changeups (15%). He picked up nine swings and misses: four fastballs, three sliders and two changes. He also had six called strikes, but zero of them with his slider and one with his changeup.
The Twins averaged a 95 mph exit velocity against him.
An interesting call and some sharp defense
Grossman appeared to record the Tigers’ first hit against Twins starter Joe Ryan with two outs in the third inning, as he executed a bunt toward third base and reached safely. The Twins didn’t even attempt a throw to first base.
But home plate umpire Ryan Blakney called Grossman out on batter interference. The umpire ruled Grossman was in fair territory when he bunted.
In the fourth, Cabrera picked up his team’s first hit with a single on a sharp grounder. The 39-year-old finished 1-for-3 with one strikeout. He has 3,003 hits in his 20-year MLB career.
Before Cabrera’s single, Báez hit a rocket at Twins shortstop Carlos Correa. He made a sliding back-handed pick and threw out Báez at first base. The ball was hit with a 107.3 mph exit velocity.
Báez completed a dazzling play of his own in the sixth, making a glove-flip to second baseman Jonathan Schoop on a ball fielded up the middle to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Andrew Chafin debuts
Following Pineda, the Tigers turned to three relievers for the final three innings: right-hander Will Vest in the sixth, left-hander Andrew Chafin in the seventh and righty Drew Hutchison in the eighth.
Chafin gave up back-to-back doubles to begin his Tigers debut, but he bounced back with three consecutive outs to avoid further damage. The double from Jeffers put the Twins ahead 5-0. To get the second out, Chafin struck out Byron Buxton looking with a 91.4 mph sinker.
The Tigers signed Chafin to a two-year, $13 million contract in March. He tossed 14 sinkers, three four-seam fastballs and one slider in his first outing.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers, Michael Pineda pounded by Minnesota Twins in 5-0 loss