Sports

Casey Mize throws 6 shutout innings for 1st win since 2021 as Tigers beat Twins 6-1

Tigers Twins Baseball
Minnesota Twins pitcher Louie Varland (37) reacts after a two-run home run by Detroit Tigers' Buddy Kennedy during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday in Minneapolis.
Abbie Parr | AP

Casey Mize pitched six scoreless innings for his major league win since 2021, and Buddy Kennedy homered and drove in three runs as the Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Sunday.

Spencer Torkelson had two hits, scored twice and knocked in two runs. Riley Greene scored three times for the Tigers, who improved to 8-3 on the road.

Mize (1-0) gave up five hits, walked three and struck out four in his first victory since Aug. 24, 2021, at St. Louis. The top pick in the 2018 amateur draft missed nearly all of the past two seasons because of Tommy John surgery and a back operation.

“I always want the guys to think that they can win when I pitch,” Mize said. “My stuff wasn’t great, but ‘compete’ was probably the biggest word of the day. I was just trying to get outs with what I had.”

Tigers Twins Baseball
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday in Minneapolis.
Abbie Parr | AP

The Twins have lost six of seven and are hitting .195, the second-worst batting average in the big leagues.

“We’ve got some guys who took their shirts off and their jerseys off and they’re in (the cage) hitting right now,” manager Rocco Baldelli said after the game. “That kind of tells you the way things are going at the moment. They’re not going the way we want.”

Minnesota rookie Austin Martin led off the ninth with his first career home run, connecting off Alex Faedo to spoil the shutout.

Twins right-hander Louie Varland (0-4) was wild from the start. He walked the first two batters he faced and, after getting a groundout, gave up a single and another walk. Kerry Carpenter’s base hit and Kennedy’s sacrifice fly drove in runs to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

“I didn’t have much feel for many pitches that first inning and tried to adjust,” said Varland, who needed 39 pitches to get through the first. “I adjusted, threw more strikes, but my stuff wasn’t as sharp or as good.”

Mize had an early bout of wildness as well, walking two of the first four hitters he faced, but he retired Martin on a lineout and Willi Castro on a flyout to leave the bases loaded in the first.

“It was just a battle from pitch one,” Mize said. “Long inning in the top half ... (but) if I leave the game and there’s a zero in the run column, it’s hard not to be happy with that.”

Varland pitched around a leadoff walk in the second, but didn’t make it out of the third inning. Torkelson led off with a single, and Varland hit Carpenter with a pitch to put two runners on.

A double play put Varland on the verge of pitching out of trouble, but he left a cutter over the middle to Kennedy, who deposited it in the left-field stands for a two-run homer. That ended Varland’s day and perhaps his current stint as the Twins’ No. 5 starter, as his ERA climbed to 9.18 through four starts this year.

“It’s everything I asked for, I trained for this offseason,” said Varland, who lobbied for a return to the rotation after a successful run in the bullpen late last season. “Going into camp I had the opportunity right in front of me and it’s just not ideal how it’s been going.”

The Tigers tacked on single runs with Torkelson's RBI double in the seventh and his sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Tyler Holton worked two hitless innings in relief of Mize.

Up next

Tigers: LHP Tarik Skubal (2-0, 2.28 ERA) will go for his seventh straight victory when Detroit plays Monday night at Tampa Bay. Skubal hasn’t lost since Aug. 29, 2023.

Twins: RHP Chris Paddack (0-1, 8.36) takes the mound as Minnesota opens a four-game series at home against the White Sox.

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