Throughout a topsy-turvy first season as manager of the Detroit Tigers, Brad Ausmus has been careful not to show any sign of panic — even when his team was stumbling through a terrible stretch in late May or struggling to keep pace in August.
Whether the Tigers find their form Sunday or not, back-to-back blowout losses to the last-place Twins leave a sour taste for the team.
“There’s not really much we can do about it,” Ausmus said of Porcello’s September woes. “He’s one of our starters, so he’s going to pitch.”
The Tigers had a chance to clinch their fourth-straight A.L. Central Division title with a win and a Royals loss; the Royals beat the White Sox, 3-1.
The Tigers, who have already clinched a postseason berth, can wrap up a fourth straight division championship as early as Friday.
After J.D. Martinez hit a three-run home run to give Detroit a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth, Trevor Plouffe drew a one-out walk against Joe Nathan (4-4) and was replaced by pinch-runner Doug Bernier.
The Tigers lost a 6-0 lead, but after Joe Mauer’s second two-run single tied the game for the Twins in the eighth inning, Hunter hit the first pitch of the ninth from Casey Fien into the bullpen behind left-center field.
Detroit trials Kansas City by two games in the AL Central and is one back of Seattle for the second AL wild card.
Coming off a much-needed victory and sending Max Scherzer to the mound should have the Detroit Tigers feeling confident heading into their series finale with the Minnesota Twins.
Justin Verlander returned to help the Tigers take the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.