MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers outfielder Matt Joyce, called up when Magglio Ordonez was placed on the DL on Sunday, was surrounded by media after Monday's game. His undershirt was a victim of the postgame spread, sullied with a gob of barbeque sauce. The rookie might have gotten himself into a sticky situation after the game, but he removed his team from one during it, getting a pinch-hit RBI triple in the eighth inning to tie the game at 4, and scoring the winning run one batter later on Curtis Granderson's single. Joel Zumaya pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the save -- closer Todd Jones had pitched on consecutive days and needed a break -- and the Tigers prevailed, 5-4.
Joyce pinch-hit for Ryan Raburn, and was called upon to face right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier. "I didn't know anything [about Guerrier]," Joyce said. "I was told [by manager Jim Leyland]: 'Joyce, grab a bat' and [hitting coach Lloyd McClendon] was in my ear two seconds later: 'He's got a fastball, it sinks, slider, curveball.' And I'm just walking up to the batters box, and I don't know what he said." Joyce worked the count full, fouling off three pitches, and on the seventh pitch, hit a drive into the right-field corner that Twins outfielder Denard Span overpursued as the ball ricocheted past him back towards center field. Joyce raced to third to be greeted by third-base coach Gene Lemont. "I think I was so excited that I don't even know what he said," Joyce said. "It was something like: 'Good job, kid,' or something like that ... I was too amped up." Granderson's single put the Tigers ahead for good. With one out, Granderson said he was just looking to drive a pitch to the outfield. It bounced just in front of center fielder Carlos Gomez and Detroit had its first lead of the night. Zumaya recorded two outs to get out of the eighth, but made things interesting in the ninth. He gave up one-out singles to Span and Gomez before eliciting a flyout from Alexi Casilla. Up came one of the best hitters in the game, Joe Mauer, against a reliever with only two career saves. Zumaya gave him all gas, climbing the ladder from 97-mph fastball to 98 to 99, with Mauer meekly grounding out to shortstop Edgar Renteria to end the game.
"I was going to go right after him, that's just me," Zumaya said. "I'm known for my fastball, and going right after guys. I'm not going to flip him a changeup or a curveball. I wanted to go in, hard in, and I ended up getting it in and he got a ground ball and we win.
"I don't back down. I don't care if it's Mauer, Morneau, guys like that. They are great hitters, they are going to put the ball in play -- especially Mauer -- in that situation, and I got the best of it."
The game, featuring two American League Central foes that are amongst the hottest teams in baseball, was testy from the outset. Twins starter Glen Perkins threw a first-inning fastball to Carlos Guillen that was sailing towards his head before the third baseman hit the deck. Guillen got up and stared at Perkins.
In the third inning, with the score tied at 1 and two outs, Detroit starter Armando Galarraga might have been seeking retaliation when he threw a fastball behind Mauer. But it was his next pitch -- another fastball -- at Mauer's knees, that drew the ire of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Home-plate umpire James Hoye issued a warning to both benches, which caused Gardenhire to bolt from the dugout in a fit or rage. A shouting match ensued that resulted in Hoye tossing the Twins skipper.
"I thought it was unnecessary, especially the second one," Mauer said. "Nobody got hit. But obviously it looked like they were throwing at us."
Leyland appeared to be on the brink of ejection at one point as well. In the sixth inning, Span hit a fly ball to right that Raburn appeared to make a diving catch on. But second-base umpire Tim Welke ruled that Raburn had trapped the ball, resulting in an RBI double for Span.
Raburn didn't offer much of a protest, but Leyland did, lighting into Welke but jogging off the field before an ejection was issued.
"[Raburn] didn't do a very good job of arguing," Leyland said. "It was kind of embarrassing for me, because he has to rant and rave a little bit. I asked him: 'Did you catch it?' He said, 'I thought so.'"
The double allowed Minnesota to extend its lead to three. But Detroit surged back with two runs in the seventh off four Minnesota pitchers.
Galarraga remained winless against the Twins, taking the no-decision while going six innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs while striking out three. Reliever Casey Fossum pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before Zumaya finished off the Twins.
The Tigers have now won 18 of their last 22 games.
"I haven't had anything to do with it," Leyland said. "We have good players that have started playing the way they are capable of playing."
|"I don't back down. I don't care if it's Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, guys like that."|
|-- Joel Zumaya|
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.