MINNEAPOLIS Placido Polanco might have been the grittiest player on a night where several were in contention after 16 innings.
The Detroit Tigers second basemen fouled a ball off his protective cup in the 14th inning, only to follow it up on the next pitch with an RBI single. He hit another run-scoring single in the 16th inning that put his team up for good in an 11-9 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
After fouling a pitch from R.A. Dickey into the dirt, Polanco went down when the ball bounced back and hit him. He needed several minutes to recover and was visited by manager Jim Leyland and a team trainer behind the plate.
It took an inning or two to finally be over it, for me to start feeling like 100 percent, Polanco said.
With runners on second and third in the 16th, Polanco lined a single through the left side of a drawn-in infield, scoring Ramon Santiago with the go-ahead run. Ryan Raburn and Magglio Ordonez added insurance runs for the Tigers.
The game lasted 5 hours and 7 minutes.
We were here for so long that we really wanted to win the game, Polanco said. So, you don t really think how tired you are.
Freddy Dolsi (1-0) blew a save in the 14th and allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the 16th, but held on for his second career win, ending Minnesota s attempt at a third comeback.
It s a really good win because it could have been a really tough loss, Leyland said. The guys hung in there. We kept battling, and so did they.
Dickey (1-1) took the loss for Minnesota, its first in four home games against the Tigers, and the Twins dropped four games back of Detroit in the AL Central. But the game wasn t Minnesota s only loss of the night.
Starter Kevin Slowey, who lasted just three innings for a second consecutive start, was placed on the 15-day DL after the game with a wrist strain. Anthony Swarzak was recalled to take Slowey s spot in the rotation, but will first pitch out of the bullpen.
Slowey allowed a season-high six runs in his worst outing since giving up six runs against the Tigers in Detroit on July 10, 2007. The right-hander has allowed at least three earned runs in four of his last five starts with a 7.54 ERA during that stretch.
But the Twins rebounded from a 7-2 deficit with a five-run sixth inning, highlighted by Denard Span s two-run triple. Span finished with a career-high five hits.
Joe Crede led off the big sixth frame with a solo home run off Zach Miner, the 25th of his career against Detroit his most against any team. Following a single, fielder s choice and walk, Span and Brendan Harris hit consecutive triples to chase Miner. Joe Mauer added a sacrifice fly against Fu-Te Ni, giving Miner five earned runs allowed on four hits in two-thirds of an inning his worst outing since allowing four runs in one-third of an inning on June 3 against Boston.
From there, both bullpens stood tall.
Neither team scored a run until Polanco pushed a single up the middle off Dickey in the top of the 14th to give the Tigers an 8-7 advantage. But the Twins came right back with a run in the bottom half of the frame on Cuddyer s RBI single. Minnesota could ve had runners on the corners with no outs following Cuddyer s hit, but Justin Morneau was thrown out at third base trying to advance when the ball ricocheted up the left-field line off third basemen Brandon Inge s glove. Instead, Minnesota had a runner on second with one out and Dolsi retired the next two batters.
He thought he could get there and just got thrown out, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. Turns out, yeah, it s not a great baserunning play because he got thrown out.
Dolsi the last pitcher left in Detroit s bullpen worked a season-high three innings in his fourth appearance of the year.
He went out there in a tough situation, catcher Gerald Laird said. He gave up one and was able to settle down. He pitched through the heart of their lineup pretty much the whole time he was in.
Minnesota also emptied its bullpen, with just-recalled Brian Duensing throwing a team-high 3 2-3 innings. He allowed Laird s solo home run in the fourth before retiring nine straight.
Luke French was solid in his major league starting debut for Detroit with two runs allowed on six hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Marcus Thames snapped an 11-game home run drought with a two-run shot off Slowey in the third inning, and Josh Anderson hit a two-run triple in the second frame for the Tigers.
NOTES: Minnesota s Delmon Young was the designated hitter for the fifth time this season and finished with three hits, including a home run. Gardenhire said that usual DH Jason Kubel was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of his .185 batting average against left-handers. ... French had been solid for Triple-A Toledo before his recall, going 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA in his previous six starts. French went 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 13 starts overall for the Mud Hens.