MINNEAPOLIS Joe Crede thrust both arms in the air once the ball was safely in the seats, as much a sign of relief as celebration while he began his game-ending trot around the bases.
It took 13 innings, four hours and 48 minutes, but Crede s two-out, two-strike grand slam gave the Minnesota Twins a 14-10 victory over the Tigers just before midnight Wednesday long after Dontrelle Willis made his first start of the season for Detroit.
It has taken him about a month to get going, but Crede is feeling comfortable with his new team. He s hitting .237, but he s fitting in just fine.
These guys have been great so far this year. It s going to be fun to see what this team can do, said Crede, who has 15 hits, 10 RBIs and four homers in his last 12 games.
This was his seventh career grand slam. He hit one in 2002 with the Chicago White Sox that ended a game, too.
You always remember those, Crede said, smiling as he quickly recalled the details.
The middle innings of this game featured a flurry of back-and-forth rallies. Then both teams stopped hitting until the Twins mounted their final push. Matt Tolbert s single that Josh Anderson nearly caught but trapped in left field tied it at 10 against Brandon Lyon (1-3), who walked Michael Cuddyer to load the bases before Crede came up.
Crede almost ended the game in the 12th against Lyon, but that drive was caught by Curtis Granderson with his shoulder against the wall in center field. Lyon threw 60 pitches over 2 2-3 innings.
I think it just shows the character of this team, said Denard Span, who hit a two-run triple to give the Twins the lead in the sixth. We do this once a week, it seems like.
The super-speedy Granderson helped Detroit take a 10-9 lead in the top half of the 13th with a little trickery on the bases. He tripled with one out before Jesse Crain (2-1) retired Placido Polanco on a flyball too shallow to score on.
With Anderson batting, Granderson faked a break for home as if he were going to steal. Crain flinched, and the right-hander brought his throwing hand out of his glove before starting his motion thus the balk call. Fans booed, but the Twins didn t argue.
Justin Morneau greeted Willis by smashing a two-run homer in the first, but the Tigers scored four times in the eighth on homers by Miguel Cabrera and Jeff Larish. Cabrera s was a three-run shot, on the first pitch by Matt Guerrier. But pinch-hitter Jason Kubel s first-pitch, two-run homer off hard-throwing Joel Zumaya tied it at 9 in the bottom half.
The final decision didn t come until Crede s big hit about an hour later.
Everybody needed that ... except maybe the other side, said manager Ron Gardenhire, as Thursday s noon start time loomed.
I ve still got to pack, Span said.
Manager Jim Leyland, his voice rising with the cigarette smoke in his office before the game, declared Tuesday s 6-2 defeat the most disappointed he s been in the Tigers all season citing too many missed opportunities by his offense. He was worked up in the seventh inning, too, drawing an ejection after rushing to scream at plate umpire Paul Schrieber.
Leyland was in no mood to talk about that afterward.
Did you see what happened? Then write what you saw. I don t have to say a word. You write what you saw, he said.
Four walks and two wild pitches contributed to five runs in 5 1-3 innings against Minnesota s Glen Perkins, who gave up struggling slugger Magglio Ordonez s second double of the season in front of a homer by Brandon Inge that put Detroit up 5-4 in the sixth.
We hung in there, Inge said, adding: That was a classic battle right there.
Willis gave up eight hits, four runs and two walks in 4 2-3 innings, but it was a decent start considering all he s come back from. He was sent to Class A last year to work on his control, and he had been on the disabled list this spring due to an anxiety disorder.
The lively lefty with the sharp, sweeping delivery looked like his usual self, bouncing around the mound between at-bats and pointing encouraging fingers toward his infielders. He nodded so many times, pumping himself up, he looked like a bobblehead doll.
All in all I felt good. I really had a good time out there, Willis said.
Notes:Adam Everett hit a two-run, two-out single against Perkins in the fourth. With help from Ramon Santiago, the Tigers lead the league with 28 RBIs from the SS position. ... After finishing eight innings in each of his first three starts, Perkins hasn t pitched past the sixth in his last four turns.