Monroe presses Tigers in Central battle
Bench player tears up former club to help even pivotal series
MINNEAPOLIS -- Craig Monroe's home run trots always involve a small show of emotion.But in his sprint around the bases following his three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Twins' 6-4 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night, Monroe carried a little more spring in his step than usual. A combination of the early-season frustrations in his new bench role, plus facing the team that released him last season led to Monroe's special trot, as well as a spirited celebration in the dugout. Clearly this one meant something special. "To be in Detroit and be a Tiger for a long time, the respect for my ex-teammates is always there," Monroe said. "But the desire to go out and do something against them burns inside too. So it's great to get the opportunity to do something special against that team and more importantly, to do it for the Minnesota Twins." A lead that, unlike the night before, the Twins would not relinquish -- although the Tigers did make an effort at a comeback. Twins starter Scott Baker looked dominant early in his outing, retiring 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. But the Twins weren't able to give him any support despite six batters reaching base over the first three innings. That included Carlos Gomez reaching third base in the first inning with no outs. However, a late jump by Gomez off the bag on a ground ball to first base proved costly when he was thrown out at home on what turned into a double-play ball. After allowing a one-out hit to Carlos Guillen, Baker gave up a double in the ensuing at-bat to Marcus Thames to put runners on first and third. That's when Baker made a wild pitch to Matt Joyce, allowing Guillen to score from third. In a series that has already seen its share of intense moments, the Twins were looking for a momentum shift of their own. It came in the bottom half of the fourth inning when Monroe came to the plate for the second time against Detroit starter Nate Robertson. With runners on first and second, Monroe took a 2-1 fastball to deep center for his eighth home run of the season.
|"This is a new chapter in my career. I've got to find a way to be a better bench player. Right now I think I'm starting to take the steps in the right direction."|
|-- Craig Monroe|
Squeaking out the victory didn't erase the fact that the Twins had plenty of chances to break the game open. Against Robertson, 13 of the 22 batters he faced reached base, but only six of them would score.The Twins also loaded the bases in the sixth inning with one out, only for Redmond to ground into a double play. It was one of five on the night for the Twins, which tied a club record. "We easily could have scored way more runs than we did," Redmond said. "We played a little sloppy, too. But you still have to win those ballgames even when you don't play great. And tonight, we did."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.