DETROIT (AP) — Ron Gardenhire has never made a secret of his admiration for Prince Fielder.
The Minnesota Twins manager has often called the Detroit Tigers' slugger one of the best and smartest hitters and baseball, and openly talks about telling his pitchers not to let Fielder beat them.
That's why Thursday night was so tough.
With the game tied at six in the eighth inning, Detroit had a runner on second and one out. Gardenhire didn't want to face Fielder in that situation, but he realized he didn't have any choice. He decided to have Jared Burton intentionally walk hot-hitting Miguel Cabrera, bringing Fielder to the plate.
"You hate walking anyone to pitch to Prince Fielder, I can tell you that right now," Gardenhire said. "But you've got to take your choice, and the way Cabrera is swinging the bat, you've got to do it."
The choice was fairly obvious — Cabrera is hitting .387 this season and has six homers and 13 RBIs in the last four games — and it almost worked.
Fielder hit a hard grounder up the middle that looked like a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play until Burton (0-2) reached for it. The ball deflected off his glove, and past second baseman Brian Dozier. Infante scored easily from second and the Tigers went on to win 7-6.
"We got the groundball," Gardenhire said. "It just didn't work out."
The Twins led 6-3 after the top of the seventh, thanks to two homers from Josh Willingham, but the bullpen couldn't hold on.
Detroit started the rally by scoring three times off three Minnesota pitchers in the seventh. Infante singled and Casey Fien walked Cabrera with one out, bringing Brian Duensing into the game. He allowed RBI singles to Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez before giving way to Burton.
Jhonny Peralta greeted Burton with a game-tying double, and Matt Tuiasosopo was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Brayan Pena and Andy Dirks popped out to end the inning.
Before the intentional walk, Cabrera had driven in three runs, including his sixth homer in four games. He's matched a career high by homering in four straight games. He has also walked five times in the four games, and Fielder has followed all five with hits, driving in seven more runs.
"It's absolutely incredible what they are doing," Tigers starter Rick Porcello said. "If I were pitching against them, I'd just walk both of them every time they came up."