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Phil Coke is now 1-for-2 as the Detroit Tigers’ makeshift closer. After cruising to an easy save on opening day against the Minnesota Twins, Coke faltered Wednesday afternoon as the Twins rallied for a 3-2 victory.
Just as he did in Monday’s 4-2 Detroit win, Joaquin Benoit opened the ninth inning on the mound, this time protecting a one-run edge. However, unlike Monday, Benoit failed to retire the batter he faced — Benoit walked Trevor Plouffe on a 3-2 pitch to put the tying run on with nobody out.
Coke managed to retire the first batter he faced Wednesday, getting Chris Parmalee to fly out to right. But Brian Dozier then singled to move pinch-runner Jamey Carroll to third, and Eduardo Escobar ended the game with a two-RBI double to deep left-center. Austin Jackson appeared to have the ball in his sights, only to lose it at the last moment.
Anibal Sanchez took a no-decision for Detroit, allowing no runs and two hits over five innings. Miguel Cabrera registered both Tigers RBIs, with singles in the third and fifth innings.
Tigers’ MVP: Cabrera. On another tough day for the offense, with the weather brisk again in Minnesota, Cabrera bounced back from a hitless Game 1 to provide the only punch on Wednesday.
Tigers’ Goat: Coke. Benoit certainly deserves some blame for walking the leadoff man with a one-run lead in the ninth inning. But Coke was extremely hittable on Wednesday, especially against right-handers (as he was all of last season). Even if Jackson managed to track down Escobar’s deep fly, the Tigers would have, at best, headed to extra innings.
The Standings: Detroit fell to 1-1, one game back of the White Sox in the AL Central. The Indians played Wednesday night.
What’s Next: Rick Porcello will try to follow up on his strong spring by getting the Tigers a series win Thursday. Minnesota will counter with ex-Met Mike Pelfrey. The game’s an early one: 1:10 p.m. ET (12:10 local), so the Tigers can get back to Detroit for Friday’s home opener.