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Detroit Tigers close series with Minnesota Twins with 6-1 win

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MINNEAPOLIS — Buddy Kennedy came out of the batter’s box quickly.

After a few steps he slowed down.

Kennedy, a second baseman for the Detroit Tigers making his first start in his second game, saw the ball fly to left field for a two-run home run with two outs in the third inning.

The Tigers defeated the Twins 6-1 in the final of a three-game series, in which the Tigers won two games. The Tigers (12-10) have won four of seven games over the past 10 days against the Twins, the reigning American League Central champions.

The two-run homer by Kennedy, who started in place of slumping rookie Colt Keith, haunted Twins right-hander Louie Varland in the third inning. For the Tigers, right-hander Casey Mize completed six scoreless innings (five hits and three walks) with four strikeouts.

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Varland should have been chased by the Tigers in the first inning – when he threw a whopping 39 pitches and walked three – but he escaped an early exit by striking out Parker Meadows, leaving runners on the corners.

But the Tigers didn’t come up empty in the first inning.

Kerry Carpenter put the Tigers ahead, 1-0, with an RBI single after Riley Greene and Mark Canha walked to open the game and get into scoring position on a Spencer Torkelson groundout.

With the single, Carpenter extended his hitting streak to seven games and his RBI streak to six games. The six-game RBI streak is the longest by a Tiger since the 2017 season, when Justin Upton snapped a six-game streak in early August.

Kennedy also helped extend the Tigers’ lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Varland, who has a 9.18 ERA in four starts, allowed four runs on three hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 2⅔ innings, burning through 74 pitches in another poor outing. His 74th pitch – a right-center cutter to Kennedy – ended up in the left-field seats for a two-run home run.

It was the second home run of Kennedy’s MLB career in his 42nd game.

(MUST LISTEN: To make “Days of Roaring” your favorite Detroit Tigers podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts (Apple, Spotify) )

Casey Mize’s Zeros

Mize didn’t look sharp in the first inning.

He loaded the bases on two walks and one single with one out, but he kept the Twins from scoring by recording back-to-back outs against Austin Martin (lineout) and Willi Castro (catchout). After that, Mize didn’t get into another three-ball count until Castro’s walk in the sixth inning.

Mize has a 2.95 ERA in four starts.

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In the bottom of the third, Byron Buxton hit into an inning-ending double play. Kennedy, who crushed the pull-side homer in the top of the third, fielded the ball up the middle, hit second base to get the go-ahead runner and threw the ball to first baseman Mark Canha to get the speedy Buxton.

Mize used his slider on called strikes – simply because he didn’t miss bats and had no horizontal movement – before shutting down hitters with his speedy fastball. He finished with nine whiffs on four fastballs and five splitters.

The splitter wasn’t a weapon until the fifth inning.

At that point, Mize collected all five scents with his splitter.

In the fifth, Edouard Julien struck out while looking at a knuckle curve painted on the bottom rail, and Trevor Larnach struck out while swinging on a splitter below the strike zone. Buxton whiffed on a pair of splitters before grounding out to end the fifth inning.

Mize also retired Alex Kirilloff with a splitter for a called third strikeout as part of his flawless sixth inning. After Castro’s four-pitch walk, Carlos Santana popped out to end Mize’s fourth start.

His fastball averaged 95.1 mph.

The Twins scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth when Martin launched a solo home run off right-handed reliever Alex Faedo. Castro doubled and Santana walked after the homer, but Faedo wriggled out of the jam by retiring three batters in a row to end the game.

Spencer Torkelson’s big hit

The Tigers increased the lead to 5-0 in the seventh inning.

Spencer Torkelson, working as the designated hitter, delivered the big hit on right-handed reliever Jay Jackson’s splitter in the seventh inning with two outs. Torkelson hit the mid-center slider with an exit velocity of 107.5 mph for a double.

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The ball kicked off the wall in left field, scoring Greene from first base.

Torkelson has recorded his highest four exit velocities (on 69 balls in play) in the last six days: 178.7 mph double on April 18 against the Texas Rangers, 177.2 mph flyout on April 16 against the Rangers, 177.8 mph double on April 17 against the Texas Rangers. Rangers and 107.5 mph double against the Twins on Sunday.

He also had a 107.2 mph double on April 5 against the Oakland Athletics.

Torkelson’s double off Jackson in the seventh inning was the 18th hardest hit at Target Field this season. Torkelson added a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning for a 6-0 lead.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him @EvanPetzold.

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