MINNEAPOLIS — After drawing near-capacity crowds at Target Field for the first two games against Detroit this weekend, the Twins had their third sellout of the season Sunday, and the loud roars that accompanied their best moments were a reminder how badly their fans still want to see them succeed.
It just doesn’t happen very often.
(PHOTO: Minnesota Twins’ Quintin Berry steals second base in the third inning as Detroit Tigers’ Jamey Carroll applies the tag late at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday, May 27, 2012. )
Matt Capps blew his first save in 10 chances this season, as Miguel Cabrera drilled a two-run homer to center field in the ninth inning, lifting the Tigers to a 4-3 victory and a three-game sweep.
With their fifth consecutive loss, the Twins fell to 6-17 in their home ballpark and an American League-worst 15-32 overall.
“It was kind of one of those that knock the sail out of your wind — knock the wind out of your sails — something like that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “So, a little flustered here in the clubhouse because we played so hard, and we had a lead and just couldn’t hold it.”
P.J. Walters delivered his fourth quality start in four chances, holding the Tigers to two runs over six innings. Detroit scored two runs in the first inning, and Walters used three inning-ending double-play balls to escape further damage.
The Twins grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fifth, when Joe Mauer hit an RBI double and Josh Willingham hit a go-ahead, RBI single. Jared Burton pitched the seventh inning, and Glen Perkins the eighth, setting the stage for Capps (0-3), whose two previous losses came in games he entered with a tie score.
Quintin Berry, who is filling in for injured Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, led off the ninth with a single against Capps and stole second base. This came after Berry recovered to make a sensational diving catch and rob Jamey Carroll of an RBI extra-base hit in the eighth inning, preventing the Twins from adding at least one insurance run.
Cabrera came up with one out, and with an 0-2 count Capps left a 94-mile-per-hour fastball over the inner half of the plate, and Cabrera turned it into his ninth homer of the season.
“I blew it,” Capps said. “That one’s on me.”
Capps said he tried taking a cue from Friday night, when Cabrera went with an 0-2 off-speed pitch on the outer half of the plate for a single.
“I just felt like after that at-bat on Friday, he was trying to go that way, so I was trying to beat him in,” Capps said. “He put a good swing on it and hit it well.”
Fans booed when the home run landed, and booed some more as Capps walked off the field after the inning. He blew nine saves last year, and they haven’t forgotten, even if he was 9-for-9 heading into Sunday.
“You never really sit and think about how good or bad things are going until the season’s over,” Capps said. “Yeah, 9-for-10 now — nothing good about that. You want to be 10-for-10, and now from here on out, try to let this be the last one. That’s all you can do. It just stinks right now.”
The Twins’ overall attendance is down about 4,800 this year, but they’ve been packing them in over the holiday weekend. They averaged 37,919 for the Detroit series, including more than 2,200 in walk-up sales Sunday.
“Hopefully we can play a little better and keep them interested,” Perkins said.