MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota -- Jordan Zimmermann was backed with three early runs from the Detroit Tigers to help lead the team to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Justin Upton blasted a three-run home run in the first inning on Saturday, powering the Tigers to a quick 3-0 lead over the Twins. J.D. Martinez reached on a fielding error by third baseman Eduardo Nunez and Victor Martinez doubled for the eighth time this season on a line drive to left field. The two trotted across the plate on Upton's homer, which was hit at 110 miles per hour and traveled 429 feet at an angle of 24 degrees.
"Give him a three-run lead, we're pretty confident he can work with that," said Upton, whose second homer of the year reached the second deck in left-center. "If we can fight and get on the board early, and let our guys work, we'll be all right."
During the at-bat, there were two outs and two on-base. Tyler Duffey was looking to get ahead in the count, so he tossed a first-pitch fastball. However, Upton had other plans.
"It's easy to look back and say I should have gotten out of that. I know I was more than capable of doing it," Duffey said. "That mistake is a lot larger when you've got a guy like Zimmermann throwing against you."
The Twins (7-17) got a single from Joe Mauer in the bottom of the first, but Miguel Sano struck out to end the inning. Mauer, with the single, has reached safely in 24 straight games to start the season. That is the third-longest streak since the team moved to Minnesota in 1961.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Byung-ho Park hit an absolute missile to left center field of a slider from Zimmermann to get the Twins on the board. The batted ball speed was 112 miles per hour and it traveled 435 feet. Most importantly, it ended a 35.2 inning streak for Zimmermann without allowing a home run and gave some momentum to Minnesota.
"That was really my only mistake all game. I tried going front door with it, and obviously that wasn't the right pitch. I'm sure Salty will say the same thing. He didn't really want to throw it and I did, so that was my fault," Zimmermann said. "It didn't work out, but solo home runs aren't going to kill you, so it's all good."
Zimmermann (5-0, 0.55 ERA) went 7.0 innings of one-run baseball, allowing six hits and no walks. The right-handed pitcher struck out seven in the brilliant outing.
The Tigers (13-10) added another run in the sixth inning as Miguel Cabrera doubled and later scored on a double by Victor Martinez. Cabrera's hit went to the base of the wall in center field, but he was almost thrown out at second base. Danny Santana's throw to Eduardo Escobar at second base was on time, but Escobar dropped the ball as he tried to apply the tag to Cabrera.
Duffey (0-1, 1.74 ERA) struck out seven and allowed four runs (one earned run) on five hits over 6.1 innings. The 25-year-old was extremely impressive, but two errors from his defense and the mistake to Upton but a burden on his afternoon.
With the win, Zimmermann is the second Tigers pitcher since 1961 to win each of his first five decisions of the season as a starter. It also marked the fourth straight victory for Detroit.
"This is probably the best lineup I've ever seen," Zimmermann said. "They're going to score runs. It's just a matter of when and what inning. For me, they've been scoring early and allowing me to settle in and just throw strikes."
Francisco Rodriguez slammed the door on the Twins on Saturday. He tossed a scoreless ninth inning to secure the 4-1 victor for the Tigers. K-Rod has succeed in six of seven save chances. With the loss, Minnesota tied the franchise record with 17 losses in the month of April.
The Tigers will look to sweep the Twins at Target Field on Sunday at 2:10 PM ET. Detroit will send Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 4.64 ERA) to the slab. Pelfrey will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.25 ERA) of Minnesota.