Ramos, Cuddyer lead Twins over Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS — This is why Ron Gardenhire wanted Wilson Ramos so badly out of spring training.
Ramos had another three hits in Joe Mauer's place and Michael Cuddyer added a three-run homer to lead the Minnesota Twins to a 10-4 victory over Detroit on Monday night, snapping the Tigers' five-game winning streak.
Ramos had two doubles and his first career RBI and Scott Baker (3-2) allowed three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins.
"He's picked us up big time right now offensively," Gardenhire said of Ramos, who is 7 for 9 with three doubles since being called up on Sunday to fill in for the injured Mauer. "You lose the best hitter in the game and you've got a young man stepping up and driving the baseball and also calling a good game and working with our pitchers."
Detroit starter Max Scherzer (1-2) gave up 10 runs and eight hits with four walks in 4 1-3 innings in his second straight poor outing against the Twins. This time, his offense couldn't bail him out.
Austin Jackson had three hits to raise his average to .377, but the Twins were up 7-0 after two innings against Scherzer, who has given up 18 hits and 16 runs in his last two starts against Minnesota.
"Way too many times this year, we've dug ourselves too deep a hole," said manager Jim Leyland, whose Tigers fell 1½ games back of the Twins in the AL Central. "You're not going to continue to come back. We've got to do a little better at avoiding that."
Mauer missed his third straight game with a bruised left heel, but the Twins haven't missed a beat yet without the reigning AL MVP and three-time batting champion.
Ramos hit .400 during spring training, and Gardenhire lobbied to keep him when the team left Florida. But with only 54 Double-A games under his belt, general manager Bill Smith wanted to Ramos to play every day at Triple-A Rochester rather than only sparingly behind Mauer with the big club.
Disappointed, Ramos hit .179 in the first month at Rochester, but has returned to his big-hitting ways since being recalled. Against the Indians, he became the first catcher in modern baseball history (since 1900) to collect four hits in his major league debut, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
He had an RBI-double in Minnesota's three-run fifth inning that put the game out of reach at 10-3.
"I feel very comfortable at the plate," Ramos said with a shrug. "I try to hit the ball hard. That's it."
The Tigers have to be envious of Minnesota's offensive depth at catcher. Detroit's catchers hit a combined .141 in the first month of the season and Gerald Laird went 0 for 4 on Monday night.
"He's obviously a very talented guy," Leyland said of Ramos. "We have very good reports on him. He's a really top prospect type guy."
The Twins jumped all over Scherzer in the first inning with Jim Thome's RBI single and Cuddyer's 411-foot blast into the second deck in left field that made it 4-0. Denard Span hit a two-run triple in the second inning and scored on a groundout by Orlando Hudson to make the score 7-0.
"We were on a winning streak and I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win and keep it going," Scherzer said. "That's probably the most frustrating thing."
In Baker's last start against Detroit, Minnesota jumped out to a 6-1 lead. But Baker gave up four runs in the fourth inning and the Twins lost the game 11-6. He pitched much more aggressively with the big lead on Monday night, going right after the Detroit lineup knowing he could afford to give up a hit or two with such a big cushion to fall back on.
Brennan Boesch hit an RBI-double in the fourth and the Tigers tacked on two more in the fifth to cut Minnesota's lead to 7-3.
The Twins won the first game of their series against the Tigers in Motown last week as well before dropping the final two in the only series Minnesota has lost all season.
After the game, a reporter prefaced a question to Gardenhire by saying Ramos isn't going to hit .777 all season.
"How do you know?" Gardenhire cracked. "He's swinging really good right now. Let's just leave him alone and hope he does it forever."
NOTES: Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera each had two hits for the Tigers. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said LHP Jose Mijares (elbow) had a good bullpen session on Monday and will throw another later in the week before the Twins get him ready for a rehab assignment. ... Twins 2B Orlando Hudson extended his hitting streak to 10 games.