The heat got to Hansel Robles on Tuesday, his manager said, and he felt sick on the mound. What happened next may have had a similar effect on the Target Field crowd.
Robles, called upon to protect a 5-1, ninth-inning lead, allowed a single, a double and a walk to load the bases, then left a 3-2 fastball where Tigers catcher Eric Haase could reach it. The ball landed in the right field seats, the Tigers bullpen was nowhere near as generous, and Miguel Cabrera completed Detroit's comeback with an RBI single in the 11th inning that earned the Tigers a 6-5 victory.
"It doesn't get too much more difficult than that," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after his bullpen blew a save with a ninth-inning homer for the second straight night. "The loss today, it stings a lot. The game is not really forgiving. You have to go out and earn it. We have to play nine good innings to get a win."
And that's just not so easy for this team this year.
What makes it sting even worse is that the game started so well. Jorge Polanco and Brent Rooker singled to open the first inning, Josh Donaldson loaded the bases by drawing a walk, and Mitch Garver supplied the power, smashing a 1-0 fastball from Tigers righthander Tyler Alexander off the back wall of the bullpens to give the Twins a four-run lead.
Yes, another catcher. Tuesday's game was the first in big-league history in which opposing catchers hit grand slams.
Willians Astudillo also homered a few innings later, but the Twins, as is their habit this season, simply stopped scoring. Garver's grand slam was their only hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Garver later had to leave the game after being hit on his right wrist by a Jose Cisnero pitch in the 10th inning. X-rays were negative, Baldelli said, and Garver is expected to be OK. The Twins weren't, though; Garver's plunking loaded the bases again with one out and a chance to win in extra innings for the second straight night. But Max Kepler, Monday's 10th-inning hero, struck out, and so did Miguel Sano, ending the inning.
Robles departed the game one batter after Haase tied the game, the 90-degree heat and humidity affecting him.
"I went out there and he basically was saying he was a little dizzy, light-headed. He got sick on the mound, and just did not feel like himself at all," Baldelli said. "That's not something we can mess around with. That could be some thing serious, so we got him inside, cooled him off a little bit."
Kenta Maeda cooled off the Tigers, too, allowing only one run in 6 ⅓ innings.
Double plays squelched Tiger threats in the first two innings, and though former Twins prospect Akil Baddoo punished the team once again for losing him in the Rule 5 draft last December. With a first-inning double and a third-inning home run, the rookie outfielder has eight extra-base hits, including three homers, in 12 career games against his old organization.
Maeda settled down and retired 10 straight hitters before tiring in the seventh inning.
"Kenta pitched great again. I mean, it's what we've seen from him lately," Baldelli said. "It's quality outing after quality outing. He's more than found himself lately, pitching confidently."
That's certainly not the case for the Twins bullpen. Minnesota has allowed six grand slams this season, all by relievers.
The game marked the second time this season that the Twins and Tigers have traded grand slams in the same game. Nelson Cruz connected for the Twins and Baddoo answered for the Tigers at Comerica Park in a 15-6 Minnesota victory on April 5, the season's fourth game.