"I think we saw a pretty wild game tonight," Gardenhire said. "Too much to talk about. Too many things happened. Defense. Plays we didn't make. Plays they didn't make. And that's why the game kept going as long as it did."
It was a game that was costly to the Twins in a number of ways. Not only did they use a large number of pitchers, leaving them searching for a starter for Friday's series opener against Texas as well as a couple relievers, but the loss also cut the Twins' lead over the White Sox in the American League Central to just 3 1/2 games. Chicago was idle on Thursday.
Things got off to a rough start for the Twins in the contest when starter Scott Baker lasted just two innings, giving up two runs, before leaving with pain in his right elbow. And the Twins were forced to use their entire bullpen to try and finish off the contest -- at least all those pitchers who were healthy.
The team was already down two arms in relief before the contest even started. Left-hander Brian Fuentes has been out since Tuesday after his lower back locked up while he was warming in the bullpen. Closer Matt Capps was also deemed not available on Thursday after he told the coaching staff that he was sore when he arrived at the field.
That left just five relievers available for Thursday's game and as things stretched on, thanks to blown leads by the Twins in the eighth and ninth innings, the club found itself looking for other options.
What resulted was the Twins turning to two of their starters to help eat up three innings. Left-hander Brian Duensing, who had started against the Tigers on Tuesday, pitched the 11th and 12th innings after having thrown 103 pitches.
Duensing gave up a run in the 11th, but the Twins managed to tie the game once again in bottom half of the inning when Detroit botched not one, but two double plays -- including one where their middle infielders ran into one another allowing a run to score.
After Duensing had thrown two innings, the Twins were forced to turn to Blackburn for the 13th due to their limited options.
"You can't ever predict something like this, your starter going out in two innings and having to use your long guy for four [innings] and 65 pitches," Gardenhire said. "You get into that game and we had it pretty much set up, but we missed some plays and let them get back into it."
The Twins were leading 7-3 at the start of the eighth, having received four solid innings of relief from Jeff Manship after Baker's exit and another scoreless inning from right-hander Jon Rauch.
Minnesota had taken advantage of an error by Will Rhymes at second base to score three unearned runs in the fifth off Tigers starter Justin Verlander, getting the final one thanks to Delmon Young using some tip-toeing magic to avoid a tag by catcher Alex Avila at home plate.
But it was a night that saw plenty of things go wrong for both clubs, and things started to go haywire in the eighth.
The Twins' normally stoic bullpen blew a four-run lead in the eighth. Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn hit back-to-back homers, shortstop J.J. Hardy committed a costly throwing error and Rhymes followed with a two-run single to knot the score at 7.
After Alexi Casilla gave the Twins the lead back with a two-out RBI single in the eighth, Jesse Crain came on for the save opportunity in the ninth. However, Crain suffered the blown save when leadoff hitter Casper Wells belted his first Major League home run to tie the game up once again. It was the first home run allowed by Crain since May 18.
The Tigers managed a total of five home runs in the contest, while all of the Twins' 15 hits on the night were singles.
"We'd score a run. They'd score a run. It was like a ping-pong match, back and forth," said Wells.
Gardenhire wasn't even around long enough to witness things slip away for his club. He was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a call at second base. Crew chief Joe West ruled that Casilla dropped the ball, preventing the Twins from even getting one out on a potential double-play ball.
"They missed double play chances, we missed double play chances," Gardenhire said. "A lot of crazy things happened in the game and that's why you end up having to figure out some crazy things here and using all kinds of pitchers."
After the game, Gardenhire met with Twins general manager Bill Smith to try and figure out the next steps for the team. They were trying to get in contact with the Triple-A Rochester club that was on the road in Syracuse to figure out which pitchers might be joining them on Friday.
The Twins certainly can use arms. Crain threw 40 pitches on Thursday and will need at least one day off, if not two and Manship will certainly need a few days. The Twins aren't certain if Fuentes will be ready and their hope is that Capps can pitch, but that's not a guarantee either. So any help that's coming will be needed.
"We'll have a starter for tomorrow and a couple of relievers [to add to the roster]," Gardenhire said. "We can't tell you their names right now. We just don't have them."