MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — C.J. Cron’s second home run on a long day turned out to be the bigger one.
Cron hit a three-run homer to break open the game in the fifth inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Saturday night to earn a split of a doubleheader.
In the opener, Cron homered in the eighth inning to tie it at 3-all, but Detroit’s John Hicks went deep in the ninth to put the Tigers back on top, and Detroit won 5-3.
Cron went 5-for-8 on the day. His homer in the opener was a towering drive to right-center field, while in the nightcap he hit a scorching line drive that just cleared the left-field fence.
“Get a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it, and whatever happens after that, I can’t control that,” Cron said. “It was nice to be able to find the seats.”
Cron’s blast in the nightcap off rookie Gregory Soto put Minnesota up 7-3, giving Kohl Stewart a cushion. Stewart (1-1) allowed three runs in six innings to earn the third victory of his major league career.
Marwin Gonzalez also homered for the Twins in the second game, and Eddie Rosario had three hits and drove in a run.
The Twins jumped on Soto (0-1), who made his major league debut after being called up from Double-A Erie as the Tigers’ 26th man. Soto was charged with seven runs on nine hits in four innings, departing after Cron’s homer.
Lefty Nick Ramirez also made his big league debut Saturday for Detroit. He relieved Soto and allowed one run in four innings.
“These kids get an opportunity like this and it’s a big moment, something you’ll never forget,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Those smiles when they came out of the ballgame, that means everything in the world.”
Designated hitter Miguel Cabrera was tossed in the first inning of the nightcap after yelling to the home plate umpire from the dugout.
In the first game, Ronny Rodriguez hit a pair of solo homers for the Tigers before Hicks’ blast put them ahead for good.
Cron homered off Joe Jimenez (2-1), but Hicks followed by connecting on the first pitch from Trevor Hildenberger (2-2).
Shane Greene pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his AL-leading 14th save.
Spencer Turnbull allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings for Detroit. He departed after Jason Castro’s homer, which followed a successful challenge that backfired for Detroit. Castro took first base, appearing to be hit by a pitch from Turnbull. The Tigers challenged the call, and it was ruled the ball hit Castro’s bat. He returned to the batter’s box and launched his fifth homer of the season.
Michael Pineda started the first game for Minnesota and allowed three runs in six-plus innings. He gave up both of Rodriguez’s homers and did not issue a walk for the second time in eight starts this season.
“I’m happy because I tried to pitch a quality game, and this was a quality game,” Pineda said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not happy because we lost.”
Gardenhire was ejected from the first game for arguing balls and strikes.
The doubleheader was scheduled to make up a game that was postponed on April 12 because of blizzard-like conditions. Rain fell briefly during the opener. It was enough to send fans scurrying for cover, but the game was not delayed.
Minnesota placed Martin Perez on the paternity list and recalled Stewart from Triple-A Rochester. The Twins added RHP Tyler Duffey as the 26th man. Both Stewart and Duffey were sent back to Rochester after the doubleheader.
Tigers: Detroit reinstated LHP Blaine Hardy from the 10-day injured list. He had been on the IL since April 22 with a left forearm strain. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Tigers optioned RHP Eduardo Jimenez to Triple-A Toledo.
Twins: Gonzalez, who suffered a facial contusion Friday during a collision with Detroit first baseman Niko Goodrum, sat out the opener.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (1-0, 3.47 ERA) will face the Twins for the second time this year when he starts Sunday’s series finale.
Twins: LHP Perez (5-0, 2.83) returns from the paternity list to start Sunday.