And so it was on Monday night at Comerica Park, as Andrew Romine slid feet-first into home plate and Jose Iglesias head-first.
With much of the focus this past weekend on the hitting — and lack thereof — and most of the focus going forward on their pitching staff, it was small ball, aggressiveness, and a pair of spectacular slides that pushed the Tigers past the Twins, 4-2.
Terrible offensively again through six innings, Romine walked with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and came around to score by the slimmest of margins on a Jose Iglesias double into the leftfield corner.
On the play, a terrific relay from leftfielder Eduardo Escobar to shortstop Jorge Polanco nearly beat Romine, who was emphatically implored by Ian Kinsler to slide towards the inside part of the plate. After a Twins challenge, the play was upheld.
After Iglesias advanced to third base on the throw home, Kinsler hit a shallow fly ball to centerfield. Iglesias came home, and beat Byron Buxton’s strong throw.
Kinsler is 14-for-22 this season in scoring a man on third base with less than one out.
Both runs were credited, in part, to the aggressive sends by third-base coach Dave Clark.
Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 41st save two innings later to pull the Tigers within a game of the second American League Wild Card spot.
Left-hander Daniel Norris didn’t factor into the win but was mighty effective against a young, undisciplined Twins lineup, getting them to chase at pitch after pitch outside the zone as he racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts.
Like ace righty Justin Verlander on Sunday afternoon, Norris was blemished by the longball.
In the third inning, Brian Dozier knotted the score at 1-1 with his 40th home run of the season, a loft shot into the Tigers’ bullpen in leftfield.
On the play, Justin Upton leaped to bring it back and perhaps hurt himself on the play. Upton did not come on-deck for his at-bat in the bottom half of the inning and was replaced by Tyler Collins in leftfield for the fourth inning.
Officially, he left with a left calf strain and is considered day-to-day.
In the fourth, Norris allowed a solo home run to Kurt Suzuki.
Norris threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out 11 and walked two.
Kinsler set the tone with a lead-off home run, his seventh such homer of the season and 26th in total, tying a single-season franchise record with Curtis Granderson in 2007 and 2009. It was his third lead-off home run against the Twins this season, and second against Ervin Santana, whom kept the Tigers’ bats at bay after the opening homer.
It looked like the Tigers’ offense — cool over the past week — had once again frozen to ice cold, until Minnesota manager Paul Molitor went to his lowly bullpen and the seventh inning came around.
Then, the Tigers tied it and took the lead.
Miguel Cabrera added an insurance run with a solo home run to right-centerfield in the eighth inning. It traveled 400 feet and was his 32nd home run of the season.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 11-2 against the Twins this season.