Inside Pitch: Rogers Keeps Tigers Rolling

On Sunday afternoon, Kenny Rogers found himself in a tough situation. But being the veteran that he is, composed himself, got his team out of the inning, and helped shutout the Twins for the second time in the three game series, on the way to the sweep of Minnesota.

The box score never shows how close a seemingly one-sided game can be.

Detroit defeated Minnesota 6-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep in which the Twins scored just one run on 15 total hits, including two Sunday off starter Kenny Rogers and ninth-inning man Todd Jones.

But in the second inning, the game was scoreless and the first two Twins reached base on a walk and a single. Rogers wasn't getting ripped, but Minnesota batters were getting good swings.

But Rogers rebounded to strike out first baseman Justin Morneau, and designated hitter Rondell White hit a grounder up the middle that looked like an RBI single. But Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco somehow knocked it down, and then, while facing center field, made a blind over-the-shoulder flip that shortstop Carlos Guillen caught on the bag for a run-saving forceout.

Twins second baseman Juan Castro then drove a pitch to deep right-center that right fielder Magglio Ordonez barely flagged down to end the inning.

So instead of having two runs in and a rally rolling, Minnesota was scoreless entering the bottom of the second. Rogers then retired 18 in a row and 20 of the last 21 he faced before turning the game over to Jones in the ninth.

In the fifth, Detroit came up with a single by left fielder Craig Monroe and a home run by designated hitter Marcus Thames. The Tigers added four more in the sixth to put the game away.

REPLAY: Starter Kenny Rogers combined with reliever Todd Jones to two-hit Minnesota on Sunday and designated hitter Marcus Thames hit a two-run home run to help Detroit beat the Twins, 6-0, and complete a three-game sweep of the Twins.

Left fielder Craig Monroe singled leading off the fifth and Thames hit his fourth home run of the season -- and his first with a runner on base -- to drop Twins starter Kyle Lohse to 1-2.

Rogers (4-2) wriggled out of a second-inning jam with the help of two excellent defensive plays and retired 18 batters in a run and 20 of his last 21. Todd Jones worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

Detroit added four runs in the sixth, three on a bases-loaded double by backup catcher Vance Wilson. The Tigers had their best April since 1984 and also recorded five shutouts in the month.

--LHP Kenny Rogers got better as the game got longer Sunday.

The 41-year-old veteran escaped danger in the second inning and went on to allow just two hits in eight innings. He recorded 18 straight outs and 20 of the last 21 he faced in improving to 4-2.

Rogers, who walked one and struck out four, effectively mixed his fastball with his curve, and his pitch location got more precise the deeper into the game he worked. Rogers threw 89 pitches.

--C Vance Wilson had a key hit Sunday for Detroit, getting playing time as regular C Ivan Rodriguez got a day off.

In fact, Wilson had three hits, his most since being traded to the Tigers last year. Wilson spent the winter remaking his swing and it seems to have paid off, as he is hitting .353.

He had his first three RBI of the season; a three-run double as Detroit scored four times in the sixth to put the game out of reach, 6-0.

--DH Marcus Thames is rebounding nicely from a hitless road trip.

Thames had three hits Friday night and two more Sunday to get his batting average up to .289.

He's been adjusting nicely to the role of part-time player in the majors after spending his minor league time as a full-time outfielder.

Thames hit his fourth home run of the season Sunday, a two-run bomb to left center that was his first with a man on base this season.

--LF Craig Monroe appears to have broken out of his early-season slump.

Monroe had a leadoff single in the fifth that preceded DH Marcus Thames' fourth home run of the season, breaking a scoreless tie.

He had two hits on the day, and now has hit safely in five games.

Monroe had been a sporadic hitter early in the season, looking good for bursts before getting his swing off track.

--DH Dmitri Young was eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but Detroit said he wasn't quite ready.

Young is working on stop-and-go baserunning drills under the supervision of trainer Kevin Rand. Once he passes that test, the Tigers might ask him to go on a rehab assignment, an assignment the veteran can refuse.

"When you're dealing with a position player, the last thing you want to see them do when they've had a leg injury is to be able to run bases, stop, start and do those things at 100 percent," Rand said. "And he's getting closer every day."

--RHP Todd Jones got to work a tune-up inning Sunday in Detroit's 6-0 victory over Minnesota.

Jones was just getting work to stay sharp as he has not been needed since Detroit returned home Friday from a West Coast road trip.

He kept the rust off with a 1-2-3 inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2.69 -- ERA of Detroit starting pitchers on the Tigers' three-city, nine-game West Coast road trip that ended April 26.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "For any young pitcher, it's hard to slow the motor down. When you're in trouble, your first reaction is to go harder. Hitters love that. So it's always better to slow everything down, think it through, and just pitch for a few pitches and get a feel for what you're doing. The hitters are geared up, so you take advantage of their aggressiveness. It took me 25 years to figure that out, I guess -- about when I was 40." -- LHP Kenny Rogers, advising Detroit's young pitchers to slow down, not speed up, when they get in a jam on the mound.

MEDICAL WATCH: DH Dmitri Young (strained right quad) went on the disabled list April 15, and he should be back in early May. However, no date has been set for his return.

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