Hughes helps Twins beat Tigers
DETROIT -- Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was glad Phil Hughes wanted to be removed from the game on Friday night, even though Hughes was pitching a shutout.
Hughes had thrown just 86 pitches but recommended that Gardenhire go to his bullpen after the seventh inning. That dose of honesty helped the Twins secure a 2-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park.
"The catcher (Kurt Suzuki) and him both said he was losing it. That pretty much tells me," Gardenhire said. "I had no thought of taking him out when a guy is going along like that. But when he said he's starting to put the ball up and the catcher comes in and says, 'Yes, he is getting the ball up, he's losing it,' then you take him out."
Hughes won a duel against Tigers ace Justin Verlander, ending Verlander's dominance against Minnesota. Verlander had won his last nine decisions against the Twins, dating to July 9, 2010. He had a 2.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts during the 12-start stretch.
Suzuki's two-run single in the seventh inning broke a scoreless deadlock.
"He didn't make it easy on us," Gardenhire said of Verlander. "We knew that coming in, what you're going to get out of the guy. He doesn't like to lose. You've got to really work at it and we did. We hung in there and fortunately, our pitcher hung in there with him."
The Twins were also fortunate that Hughes (4-1) didn't take the mound in the eighth without his best stuff. Casey Fein retired the Tigers in order in the eighth, and closer Glen Perkins survived a shaky ninth to record his ninth save.
"Every pitcher has a certain amount of pride," Hughes said. "In the seventh, I felt like my stuff and location were deteriorating. In a situation like that, up 2-0 with the meat of their order coming up, guys who have had success against me in the past, you don't want to give the game away just because you're feeling prideful."
The former New York Yankee right-hander scattered eight hits in seven shutout innings for his second win over the Tigers this season. He held Detroit to one earned run in seven innings on April 26.
"We faced him quite a bit in New York and he was always a little bit effectively wild," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "Today, he was pounding the zone, painting. He had great command of his fastball and his cutter. It was like an Invisi-ball. You saw it, put a good swing on it and couldn't square it up."
Suzuki, the Twins' catcher, had two hits as Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak. Right fielder Chris Parmelee and second baseman Brian Dozier also had two hits apiece for the Twins.
Parmelee and shortstop Danny Santana singled and Dozier walked to load the bases before Suzuki's two-out single up the middle in the seventh.
Avila regretted not calling for off-speed pitches on the hits by Santana and Suzuki.
"It's easy to second-guess right now," he said. "I'll be thinking about it all night but Justin pitched great. Seven innings, two runs, I'll take that any day."
Perkins gave up Avila's RBI double in the ninth but struck out left fielder Rajai Davis to end the threat.
Minnesota first baseman Joe Mauer did not play for the fifth consecutive game because of back spasms.
Verlander (4-2) allowed seven hits in seven innings and struck out five, but the Tigers lost their second straight after an eight-game winning streak.
Center fielder Austin Jackson had three hits and scored the Tigers' lone run. Designated hitter Victor Martinez went 0-for-4, snapping his 11-game hitting streak.