DETROIT – The timing is coincidental, but Ehire Adrianza had to laugh. The Twins’ utility infielder, enjoying the hottest two-week stretch of extra-base hits in his major-league career, had a visitor waiting for him after the Twins’ 6-4 victory over the luckless Tigers on Tuesday: A urine-sample collector.
Yep, Adrianza was randomly selected for a drug test on the same night he smacked a two-out, bases-loaded fastball into the right field stands at Comerica Park, his first career grand slam and the third home run he’s hit in two weeks.
“I’m very excited and happy to be able to hit my first grand slam of my career,” said Adrianza, who laughed at the irony of the postgame test. “I’m not looking for home runs. I’m just looking to make good contact.”
He’s made more of it over the past two weeks than ever before. Like his fellow Venezuelan infielder, Eduardo Escobar, Adrianza is stealthily enjoying the best stretch of his career. In his past nine starts, he has piled up five doubles, a triple and three homers, and a slugging percentage of .900.
“Early in the year, the lefthanded side of his swing was getting long and he was having trouble making adjustments, but he’s been working on it,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s been nice — he’s been driving some balls out there. He’s keeping the ball out of the air a little better, and he’s been rewarded for that.”
The Twins were rewarded, too, because at the moment he connected, it was only their fourth hit of the night, and just the second to leave the infield. Lefthander Blaine Hardy shut down the Twins, facing three batters in four of his six innings, and four batters in the other two. The Twins scratched out a run against Hardy, though, and that was mostly Adrianza’s doing, as well: He beat out an infield dribbler to third base, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Ryan LaMarre’s fly ball to left.
“That’s a base-running-created run,” Molitor said approvingly. “You look for them especially when your offense is scuffling.”
The night’s biggest story, though, might keep the Tigers’ offense scuffling for awhile. The Twins’ second victory in a row allowed them to pass Detroit in the AL Central standings, but the Tigers got much worse news. Two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera swung at a Jake Odorizzi pitch in the third inning, dropped his bat and grabbed his left elbow.
He walked directly to the dugout and the clubhouse, where doctors examined him. The unfortunate verdict: Cabrera has a ruptured biceps and will miss the rest of the season.
Odorizzi went on to complete five innings, though it wasn’t easy. His command was off, leading to four walks, four hits and a skyrocketing pitch count that limited him to just five innings. He stranded three runners in scoring position, and only allowed two runs.
“It’s kind of like the term in golf — you’ve just got to scramble,” Odorizzi said.
It worked. Thanks to Odorizzi’s damage control, the Twins trailed only 2-1 in the seventh. And when Escobar led off the inning with a single, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire lifted Hardy, and Detroit’s bullpen made the mess much worse.
Louis Coleman walked Miguel Sano, and then, after recording two outs, walked Logan Morrison to load the bases. Gardenhire went to Warwick Saupold, who fell behind 3-1 to Adrianza. Saupold hung a 92-mph fastball belt-high, and Adrianza upper-cutted it into the first row of seats.
“At the beginning of the season, my swing was too long,” said Adrianza. “I was able to make adjustments, and now I’m hitting balls out of the zone.”
And out of the park.