Prince Fielder gets the best of Jared Burton in Twins' last home game
MINNEAPOLIS -- A late home run by Prince Fielder off the mostly-reliable Jared Burton gave the Detroit Tigers a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 finale at Target Field.
Burton has been one of the best late-inning relievers in baseball this season, but he lost an eighth-inning battle to one of the best hitters in baseball when Fielder delivered an opposite-field, two-run homer to put the Tigers up 2-1.
Fielder leaped in the air in excitement as he jogged between first and second base. His blast brought the Tigers one step closer to an American League Central division title.
Prior to the home run, Burton had allowed only two earned runs since July 30
Liam Hendriks looked a lot more like the pitcher the Twins thought they were getting from Triple-A earlier this season. The right-hander held Detroit scoreless on just five hits through seven innings, striking out three and walking two.
This marked the first time in 16 starts with the Twins this season that Hendriks has held an opponent scoreless.
"It was a great experience out there, just to go seven innings against that sort of lineup and not give up any runs is huge," Hendriks said. "Unfortunately we weren't able to walk away with a win, but it was a good end to the season for myself personally."
Hendriks will head to spring training competing for one of what could be multiple open rotation slots.
"Hopefully we can build off that, get into spring training and see where he's at," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That was a nice performance by him. I'm sure he'll breathe a little bit easier."
Pedro Florimon has impressed Twins decision-makers with his glove in recent weeks, but on Sunday it was his bat that came through big, at least momentarily. Florimon's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning off right-hander Anibal Sanchez put the Twins up 1-0.
But that was the only offense the Twins could muster all afternoon.
Joe Mauer pulled closer to Miguel Cabrera in the American League batting title race, going 3-for-4 with a walk, raising his batting average to .323. Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk and a lineout, dropping his batting average to .325.
The Twins had a golden opportunity to put a crooked number on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when they had runners on corners and nobody out.
The Twins also had runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, trailing by one, but Florimon lined out to left field to end the threat.
5: Quality starts for Hendriks this season
2,776,354: Season attendance at Target Field, which ranks as the fourth-highest total in team history
OF Josh Willingham remains sidelined with a strained shoulder. It's possible he won't play in Toronto.
Monday: @ Blue Jays, 6:07 p.m. RHP Esmerling Vasquez (0-2, 5.88) vs. LHP Aaron Laffey (4-6, 4.52)
Tuesday: @ Blue Jays, 6:07 p.m. TBD vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva (7-7, 4.16)