Polanco, Pineda help Twins beat Tigers 5-2
MINNEAPOLIS - Jorge Polanco launched a three-run homer and Michael Pineda was solid in his last start of the year as the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Minnesota began the game with three hits against right-hander Casey Mize. After singles by Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton, Polanco took Mize deep to center field on the first pitch.
"Our early hitters really set the tone," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Polanco’s 32nd homer of the season gave him 94 RBIs, both team highs.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 29: Jorge Polanco #11 of the Minnesota Twins rounds the bases his three-run home run against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning at Target Field on September 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/G
Pineda (9-8) allowed one run and scattered eight hits over 5 2/3 innings in what could be his final game with the Twins. The veteran right-hander can become a free agent this offseason. He finished the year with a 3.62 ERA in 22 games after making just five starts in 2020.
Pineda worked around trouble in the second and fifth, stranding a runner on third each time.
"He won the at-bats with two outs," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had a hard time coming up with a big hit again. We have not been as productive offensively as our norm."
Pineda exited to a standing ovation in the sixth. He finished his season with four straight wins.
"I hope that's not the last time we're going to be taking him out of a ballgame in a Twins uniform," Baldelli said. "It was definitely a very nice way to end his season."
After the game, the 32-year-old Pineda said he'd welcome a return to Minnesota. He has spent three seasons with the Twins and is 22-13 during his tenure.
"I'd be happy," Pineda said of a potential return. "I love the city. I love everybody here. We have a great group of players."
Mize (7-9) settled down after the first inning but lasted just four. He allowed only one hit in his final three innings.
The 24-year-old Mize finished with a 3.71 ERA in 30 starts. It was his first full big league season after making seven starts in 2020.
"I'm proud of the fact that I was able to make 30 starts and go 150 innings," Mize said. "If I were to look at it from an overall standpoint, I think pretty solid. A lot to build on and also a lot to be happy about."
Max Kepler and Nick Gordon had RBIs in the eighth to give the Twins a pair of insurance runs.
Buxton's first-inning infield single extended his on-base streak to 12 games.
Twins right-hander Joe Ryan was reinstated from the bereavement list and is slated to start Thursday’s series finale. Ryan will be making his fifth career start. He’s 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and has 25 strikeouts in 22 innings.
Baldelli said Ryan was able to continue throwing while he was away from the team.
Minnesota acquired Ryan from Tampa Bay in the trade that sent slugger Nelson Cruz to the Rays in July.
"I wish they would’ve done a little worse in the Nelson Cruz return," Hinch said. "They did pretty well."
Tigers: Harold Castro was hit on the right foot by a pitch in the eighth inning but remained in the game after a brief visit from an athletic trainer.
Twins: Pineda was hit in the right thigh by a comebacker off the bat of Castro in the fourth. The pitcher was evaluated but stayed in the game.
Ryan will be opposed by Tigers LHP Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.13 ERA), who hasn’t gone more than four innings in any of his last four starts.