MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gio Urshela went right back to work after his wife delivered their new daughter and gave the Minnesota Twins a critical comeback victory with the first game-ending home run of his career.
The injury-depleted Twins badly needed the jolt.
Urshela's two-run homer in the 10th inning drove in Jose Miranda, who had three RBIs as Minnesota beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Monday night and maintained its one-game lead in the AL Central.
“We’ve got a good lineup. We all trust each other, so I kind of knew something was going to happen soon,” said Miranda, who hit a tying, two-run single in the eighth and drove in the automatic runner with his single in the 10th.
Urshela finished it with his high drive onto the grass berm beyond center field off Alex Lange (4-2). That kept the Twins alone in first place, just ahead of Cleveland after the Guardians beat Arizona in 11 innings.
“A lot of emotions,” said Urshela, who was on the paternity list for three days while his wife, Danna, gave birth to a healthy girl, Gianna. "Baby and walk-off and winning. It’s good for the team.”
The home-plate jump greetings and water dousing of Urshela came long after Tigers ace Tarik Skubal was pulled following five scoreless innings after complaining of left arm fatigue. He gave up three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over 77 pitches, his third-fewest of the season, in what could have been his final start with the out-of-contention team with the trade deadline looming on Tuesday.
“I didn’t want to put myself at risk of something serious happening,” Skubal said.
Detroit manager A.J. Hinch was happy Skubal spoke up.
“We want guys to communicate openly. This is not a question of his resolve or his toughness," Hinch said. "This is one of the toughest kids on our team.”
Akil Baddoo delivered a go-ahead single for Detroit in the top of the 10th off winner Griffin Jax (5-2). Tucker Barnhart drove in the first two runs for the Tigers, who fell to 16-36 on the road.
The Twins played their first of 20 home games in August, their most in a month since they played 22 times at Metropolitan Stadium in June 1977.
The turn of the calendar and the promise of home-field comfort couldn't have come soon enough, after a 10-12 record in July that saw their slim division lead become even more precarious beneath the weight of a sputtering pitching staff.
Aaron Sanchez, who made seven starts for Washington with an 8.33 ERA earlier this season before being released, was called up from Triple-A St. Paul to fill in for Minnesota's reeling rotation and provided five solid innings. Sanchez gave up four hits, including a two-out RBI single by Barnhart in the fourth, and one walk with eight strikeouts.
“Call it a trade-deadline acquisition for sure,” Sanchez said. “Hopefully I can be this sharp for the remainder time I’m here, and hopefully we can win as many games as we can down the stretch.”
Miranda has tied the game or given the Twins the lead with 14 of his 42 RBIs in his rookie season, a much-needed contribution for a team with five position players on the injured list. That doesn't include All-Star center fielder Byron Buxton, who has been playing all season with a bad knee and was unavailable Monday.
“Big moments, I just like them,” Miranda said.
The injured list also doesn't include, for now, outfielders Kyle Garlick or Alex Kirilloff. Kirilloff, who is unable to swing without pain in his wrist, entered for two innings on defense after Garlick exited with right rib inflammation. Tim Beckham then batted for Kirilloff once his spot in the order came up and remained in the game.
Tigers: RHP Wily Peralta, out for the last month with a strained left hamstring, has rejoined the team with a target reinstatement on Wednesday, Hinch said.
Twins: C Ryan Jeffers, expected to miss another four to six weeks recovering from a broken right thumb, had surgery during the All-Star break to insert screws designed to accelerate the healing. His wife also happens to be 39 weeks pregnant with their first child, so the upside is he's been able to spend extra time at home. The downside is the bulky cast. “She’s like, ‘I’m not having this baby until you get this thing off your hand. It smells too bad,'” Jeffers said.
Tigers: RHP Matt Manning is slated for reinstatement from the 60-day injured list so he can start Tuesday night, the first appearance for the 2016 first-round draft pick since developing shoulder inflammation on April 16 that forced him off the mound.
Twins: RHP Chris Archer (2-5, 4.04 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the middle game of the series, after a season-worst outing when he allowed six runs in three innings at Milwaukee last week. Archer's turn in the rotation was pushed back one day, prompting Sanchez to be promoted.
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