MINNEAPOLIS — Riley Green. Spencer Torkelson. Kerry Carpenter.
The trio of high-profile players in the heart of the hitting streak combined for a four-game home run to lead the Detroit Tigers to an 8-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday in the finale of the two-game series at Target Field.
“The guys that hit them today are going to hit them for us,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of the homers. “Torque is growing in power. Riley, awesome homer net. Carp, opponents again. These guys are going to show some power.”
Greene, Torkelson and Carpenter drove in seven of the eight runs while collecting seven hits in 13 at-bats. Leadoff hitter Akil Baddoo, who scored three of those runs, set the table for the budding stars with a single and three walks in his five appearances on his 25th birthday.
“I wish it was his birthday every day,” Hinch said. “He’s done everything we see in him. … That’s the good version that we’re trying to be more consistent with, and when he does that, we love what he does.”
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The Tigers (54-66) trail the Twins by eight games for first place in the American League Central. More importantly, the Tigers are finally reaping the steady benefits of the young players they started developing in the big leagues last season.
A four-run seventh put the Tigers ahead, 7-4, and showed a glimpse of the future.
The comeback started with a walk by Baddoo and continued with Greene’s first-run triple to right-handed reliever Griffin Jax to tie the game at four runs apiece. The next batter, Matt Vierling, grounded out to the right side to bring Greene home for a 5-4 lead.
Home runs accounted for the final two runs in the four-run seventh inning as Torkelson and Carpenter blasted solo homers for a 7-4 advantage, with both players hitting sweepers off Jax in left field. Torkelson’s home run, his second of the game, traveled 405 feet.
“I think this team is always in attack mode,” Torkelson said. “We’re not giving up anything.”
Torkelson, who has four homers this season and six homers in his last seven games, hit his 20th and 21st home runs in his 118th game of the season, his second year in the majors.
The 23-year-old — who turns 24 on Aug. 26 — became the seventh player in franchise history to hit at least 20 home runs in his age-23 season, joining Travis Fryman, Hank Greenberg, Willie Horton, Matt Nokes, Jason. Thompson and Rudy York.
Carpenter, meanwhile, has 16 home runs in 77 games.
The Tigers also scored three runs in the third inning, again thanks to the combination of Greene and Torkelson. Facing right-hander Kenta Maeda, Greene launched a fastball for a 448-foot two-run home run to center, and Torkelson launched a curveball for a 432-foot solo home run to left center.
Those homers cut the Tigers’ deficit to 4-3.
Green has 11 homers in 84 games this season.
“I was going based on how they attacked me the first time we faced them,” Green said of his second fight with Maeda in six days. “He opened it up and threw the splitter a little bit more, but I stuck to my strengths and what I do. I don’t really change my approach for anybody.”
The Tigers tacked on their eighth run in the ninth inning on Greene’s sacrifice fly to center, taking an 8-4 lead. The 22-year-old, who completed a double in the cycle, finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs to pace the offensive production.
Greene is hitting .309 this season.
“I didn’t know at first and then somebody told me something,” said Green, who hasn’t circled since high school.
“That’s it for me,” Torkelson said. “I kind of tipped him off. I was like, ‘Bike clock.’ … But he’s incredible.”
It was not easy to finish the game.
Right-handed reliever Jason Foley, who hadn’t allowed a home run in 51⅔ innings this season, surrendered a two-run homer to Polanco and a solo homer to Kepler to start the bottom of the ninth inning, cutting the Tigers’ lead to 8-7.
Royce Lewis hit a single to keep the pressure going, but Foley retired the next two batters — Matt Wallner (340-foot flyout) and Donovan Solano (double play) — to preserve the one-run margin.
Right-hander Reese Olson, facing the Twins for the second time in as many starts, allowed four runs on eight hits and one walk with three strikeouts in 2⅔ innings. He threw 45 of 67 pitches for strikes and was not sharp.
The 24-year-old produced just seven whiffs on 33 swings, plus 12 called strikes.
Lewis, the former No. 1 overall pick who was not in the Twins’ lineup last week, ripped a double to right for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. He went to the plate after Olson’s two-out walk to Kepler, who advanced to second base on a wild pitch.
The Twins added three more runs in the second inning for a 4-0 advantage. Olson allowed four straight singles to Christian Vazquez, Joey Gallo, Kyler Farmer and Eduard Julien. Julien’s single drove in two runs, followed by Polanco’s sacrifice fly for the third run.
Olson left with two outs and two runners in scoring position in the third inning. Right-handed reliever Beau Brieske stranded runners by hitting Joey Gallo, a left-handed slugger, with a changeup down and away.
For his 67 pitches, Olson used 26 sliders (39%), 19 sliders (28%), 10 four-seam fastballs (15%), nine changeups (13%) and three curveballs (4%). He recorded seven whiffs on four sliders and three sinkers.
The Tigers turned to left-handed reliever Tyler Holton, replacing Brieske, with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. Holton had to face Wallner, who crushed a grand slam in Tuesday’s opener, but struggles against lefties.
“This was a perfect opportunity for Holton,” Hinch said.
Holton hit Wallner with a slider down and away.
“We’re all asked to do our jobs,” Holton said. “It was a big moment for us.”
The 27-year-old went 2⅓ scoreless with five strikeouts.
Holton, who president of baseball operations Scott Harris claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks in spring training, has a 1.74 ERA in 62 innings in 42 appearances this season, including a 1.07 ERA over his last 33⅔ innings.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
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