Tigers sweep Twins, move into AL wild-card spot

Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander throws against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Justin Verlander tied a season-high with 11 strikeouts and the Detroit Tigers moved into the second AL wild-card spot by beating the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Thursday to sweep a day-night doubleheader.

Erick Aybar drove in two runs for Detroit, which moved a half-game ahead of Baltimore for the second wild card and trails Toronto by one game. The Tigers went 9-0 at Minnesota this year.

Victor Martinez had a pinch-hit, three-run homer during a six-run ninth inning as Detroit won the opener 9-2. Justin Upton added his 26th home run.

Verlander (15-8) allowed four hits in six innings, including home runs by Juan Centeno and Byron Buxton. He has won 12 of his last 13 starts against the Twins.

Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for his 44th save in 48 chances.

Minnesota has lost six straight games and 97 overall, reaching 96 for the fourth time in six seasons and three short of their 2011 total.

Ervin Santana (7-11) gave up four runs — two earned — five hits and four walks in in six innings.

In the opener, Anibal Sanchez allowed one run and two hits in five innings in a spot start, and Alex Wilson (4-0), Shane Green and Mark Lowe finished the five-hitter.

The nightcap was another sloppy game for the Twins, who committed two errors, had two wild pitches and one passed ball. They had three errors and five wild pitches in the doubleheader, scheduled to make up Wednesday’s rainout.

AMONG SECONDS

Brian Dozier’s first-inning homer in the first game was his 42nd of the season and 40th while playing second base, establishing a new AL record for homers in a season by a second baseman. Dozier passed Alfonso Soriano’s total in 2002. Only Rogers Hornsby (42 in 1922), Davey Johnson (42 in 1973) and Ryne Sandberg (40 in 1990) have hit more.

Dozier had his 24-game hitting streak snapped in the second game.

“It’s unfortunate for him that he hasn’t been able to celebrate a lot of those home runs with the losses,” Molitor said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler (concussion) had an on-field workout and could be cleared to play Friday if he feels well after the workout.

Twins: DH/3B Miguel Sano (lower back tightness) was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 12. Molitor said Sano was still sore but was anxious to return. . Molitor confirmed RHP Trevor May has a stress fracture in his back. May was 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 44 relief appearances. He made three trips to the DL with the injury, which hadn’t been detected in previous exams. . RF Max Kepler left the second game with a mild neck strain after hitting the wall awkwardly.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (10-7) is to start Friday against Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (12-2) in the opener of Detroit’s final homestand. Fulmer has lost four of his last six decisions and is 0-2 against Kansas City this season despite a 2.75 ERA in three starts.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (6-10) is slated to make his final home start of the season on Friday against Seattle, which will start LHP James Paxton (4-7).

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