DETROIT (AP) — Byron Buxton doubled and homered to lead the Minnesota Twins to a crucial 7-1 victory win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
The Twins are battling Houston, Los Angeles and Cleveland for the final American League wild-card spot and have won two straight and five of seven.
For the Tigers, it was the final home game of an ugly season, and they finished the day with most of their key players on the bench.
Ervin Santana (7-4) cruised through seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks, while striking out five.
Randy Wolf (0-5) was hit hard once again, giving up six runs on seven hits and a walk without getting out of the second inning.
The Twins broke open the game early with a six-run second inning. Eduardo Nunez led off with a single, and Eduardo Escobar followed with a grounder that third baseman Nick Castellanos booted.
Kurt Suzuki’s RBI single got Minnesota on the board, and Buxton and Brian Dozier followed with doubles to make it 4-0. Aaron Hicks singled to make it 5-0, but Wolf got a cheer from the crowd when he struck out Joe Mauer to finally record the first out of the inning.
He also retired Miguel Sano, but Torii Hunter’s RBI single gave the Twins a six-run lead and brought Kyle Ryan out of the Tigers bullpen.
Ryan and the other Detroit relievers slowed Minnesota down, but the Tigers couldn’t get anything off Santana until doubles by Tyler Collins and Josh Wilson made it 6-1 in the seventh inning.
Buxton, though, hit his first career homer in the eighth, a shot over the bullpens in left field to restore Minnesota’s six-run lead. Buxton got the traditional cold shoulder from his teammates, who didn’t even acknowledge his return to the dugout.
That was enough for Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who sent Dixon Machado, Bryan Holaday and Jefry Marte to bat in the eighth in place of Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
Twins: C Kurt Suzuki started Sunday, despite the normal policy of catchers getting a day game off after a night game. Suzuki has been logging a lot of time behind the plate down the stretch, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he might give him a day off Monday in Cleveland.
Tigers: Ausmus said that SS Jose Iglesias (broken finger) was available for pinch-running duties Sunday, and might accompany the team on the seven-game road trip to end the season. It’s still unclear if the All-Star will be able to hit or play the field again this year.
Twins: The Twins hop across Lake Erie to start a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians, as both teams try to stay in the wild-card race. Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.43) will pitch Monday’s opener for Minnesota, with Corey Kluber (8-15, 3.55) going for the Indians.
Tigers: Detroit will get another chance to help Houston and Los Angeles, as the Tigers fly to Texas for a three-game series with the Rangers. Justin Verlander (4-8, 3.49) starts Monday against Colby Lewis (17-8, 4.36).