Mental miscue, cold bats cost Detroit Tigers in shutout loss to Twins

Minneapolis — Physical errors happen. Baseball is a hard game played by imperfect human beings.

Mental mistakes, as any manager will tell you, shouldn’t happen. They are mostly inexcusable and unacceptable.

Sometimes they are almost inexplicable.

Javier Báez is a Gold Glove-winning shortstop. He’s good for a couple highlight-worthy plays a week. But in the second inning of the Tigers’ 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins Tuesday night, he had a brain cramp that contributed to the first run of the game.

BOX SCORE: Twins 2, Tigers 0

Max Kepler was on first base with two outs. Everybody in the ballpark knew that he would be running on the 3-2 pitch to Gio Urshela. Still, after Urshela looped a single to shallow left field, Báez pointed for left fielder Willi Castro to throw the ball to second base.

“We called it too early and they sent him home,” Báez said. “He just had a good jump and it took a little bit for Castro to get to the ball because he was playing over and it was soft contact. And they just kept sending him.”

Minnesota Twins' Luis Arraez (2) scores on a double by Carlos Correa as he runs past Detroit Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart during the third inning.

Normally, throwing to second would be the play. You want to split the runners and not let Urshela get to second. But Kepler was running on the pitch and was about to round third when Báez motioned for Castro to throw to second.

“We didn’t see that, didn’t expect him to be that close to third base,” Báez said. 

Kepler scored relatively easy and the Tigers, who continue to struggle offensively, were once again tasked with digging out of an early hole.