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Updated: September 9th, 2011 9:42pm
Twins Daily: Kevin Slowey struggles after offense spots an early lead

Twins Daily: Kevin Slowey struggles after offense spots an early lead

by Phil Mackey
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The Minnesota Twins jumped out to an early lead, but right-hander Kevin Slowey was unable to take advantage, as the Detroit Tigers came storming back in the middle innings to earn an 8-4 victory on Friday night.

The skinny

After sitting through a rain delay at the start of the game, it looked for a minute as if the Twins were set for a big night offensively when they scored four runs in the top of the first inning off Brad Penny.

Jason Kubel and Chris Parmelee each singled home runs, and Danny Valencia added a two-RBI triple.

But the Tigers came back to score three runs in the bottom of the second on a three-run bomb by Alex Avila, and they later jumped out to a lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI triple by Wilson Betemit and a two-run homer by Ramon Santiago.

Slowey left after only four innings. He was charged with six earned runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking nobody.

Right-hander Kyle Waldrop came on for his second career major league appearance and immediately served up a solo homer to former Twin Delmon Young. Waldrop wound up completing three innings, however, allowing only a walk after Young's blast.

Penny grinded through five innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out one.

Joe Mauer went 1-for-4 with a single in his first game back behind the plate since Aug. 20.

Turning point

The Twins still held a lead after Avila's second-inning, three-run blast, but it was a blow that seemed to change the entire vibe at Comerica Park.

The inning started with back-to-back singles by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and after Avila went deep, Jhonny Peralta singled to center and Wilson Betemit lined out to right field.

If the Tigers felt like they were buried after falling behind 4-0, this five-batter sequence in the second inning likely reversed any doubt.

Numbers game

2: Home runs for Young against the Twins since being dealt in early August.

51: Length of the rain delay, in minutes, that pushed back Friday night's first pitch.

43: Pitches thrown by Penny in the first inning.

0: Hits for Joe Benson in 11 major league at-bats so far. Benson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Friday night.

12: Errors for Tsuyoshi Nishioka in 66 games. Nishioka side-stepped and booted a hard groundball by Austin Jackson.

Health report

• 1B Justin Morneau (mild concussion symptoms) traveled with the team to Detroit in order to continue working out and taking batting practice. Although he must be cleared by Major League Baseball to return, due to new concussion policies, it's possible Morneau could DH before the end of the current road trip.

• RHP Kyle Gibson officially underwent Tommy John surgery Thursday and will likely be sidelined through the 2012 season. On Friday evening, Gibson tweeted, "Back to Fl and time to get after it for the next 365 days! Lots of nothin for a few weeks then time to get the arm back in shape!"

On deck

The series continues Saturday (3:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when right-hander Anthony Swarzak (3-6, 3.95) battles right-hander Max Scherzer (14-8, 4.33).

Scherzer has faced the Twins twice this season, with mixed results. He allowed one run and only five baserunners in seven innings on July 22 in Minnesota, but served up seven runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings back on May 31 in Detroit.

Swarzak might be auditioning for a spot in next year's rotation over the next few weeks, even though manager Ron Gardenhire likes him in his current role. In his last start, Swarzak allowed only two earned runs on seven hits in eight innings against the White Sox, but he gave up eight runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 against the Sox on Aug. 30.

Coming up

• Sunday: @ Detroit, 12:05 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (1-3, 4.56) vs. RHP Doug Fister (4-1, 2.64)
• Monday: Off day
• Tuesday: @ Kansas City, 7:10 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-1, 3.86) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (10-7, 4.30)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd