Twins trounce Tigers, stay 1 game back

Twins trounce Tigers, stay 1 game back

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rookie Tyler Duffey tossed 6 1/3 strong innings while the Twins jumped on the Tigers early en route to a 7-1 win on Monday night at Target Field.

It helped the Twins keep pace in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot. Minnesota, which has won four of its last five, remained one game behind Texas.

Duffey, making his first start since Sept. 6 because the Twins are monitoring his workload down the stretch, was sharp. He didn't allow a run until the seventh on an RBI groundout from Andrew Romine, and the rookie left to a standing ovation. Duffey has a 2.45 ERA over his last six starts, with 36 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. He was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting Victor Martinez to ground into a double play and cruised from there.

"I had a couple extra days because of where my innings are right now, and I was hit and miss in the bullpen and in the first inning, but I got through it," Duffey said. "I was able to settle in after that and felt pretty good."

Tigers lefty Kyle Lobstein struggled, lasting just 1 1/3 innings and surrendering six runs on seven hits and two walks. Kyle Ryan pitched in long relief for Detroit, allowing one run over 4 2/3 frames. Ryan was hurt by Eduardo Escobar, who had an RBI single in the second after Lobstein departed and hit a solo blast in the fourth. Escobar was one of five Twins players with an RBI in the game.

Escobar's solo blast

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Twins strike early: Minnesota jumped all over Lobstein, scoring four times in the first and twice in the second. Trevor Plouffe opened the scoring with a two-run double off the right-field wall with the bases loaded. Torii Hunter and Kurt Suzuki added RBI singles in the first before Miguel Sano knocked Lobstein from the game with an RBI single in the second.

Sano's RBI single

"The first inning was huge on both sides," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Getting the double play to get off the field after a rough start was really big and picked the team up. And then we came back and put together a good inning. Hicks with a good at-bat, Joe had a big night for us and Trevor did his job, trying to get one run in but was rewarded with two. And then a big hit at the end from Suzuki there." More >

Plouffe's two-run double

Minnes-communication: While Lobstein struggled to make pitches in the opening inning, defense also didn't help. While Miguel Cabrera tried to make a play by ranging to his right for a Hunter ground ball, Ian Kinsler was already in position for it. Lobstein didn't anticipate Cabrera breaking for the ball, leaving first base uncovered for Hunter to leg out an RBI infield single for Minnesota's third run.

Hunter's RBI infield single

"It was hit so softly, I'm not sure that [Kinsler] can come in and make the play," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was hit towards the second baseman, but I think our only shot at getting him was Miggy, because he was closer in. I think that was the confusion."

Duffey sharp in return: The Twins have been trying to watch Duffey's innings down the stretch, so he was skipped in the rotation the last time out, giving him seven days in between starts. He didn't show any signs of rust in earning his first win since Aug. 20.

Duffey's excellent start

"It was nice to see him do that after a long rest," Molitor said. "He walked the first couple guys and you're starting to think whether that rest was a good idea or a bad idea, but he made it work out."

McCann on the move: The Tigers kept testing the depths of Target Field, but it was James McCann's drive off the center-field fence that set up Detroit's run. McCann took advantage of the carom past Byron Buxton for a triple, his fifth of the season, leading off the seventh before scoring on Romine's groundout. McCann became the first Tigers catcher with five triples in a season since Ivan Rodriguez in 2005.

McCann's triple off the wall

QUOTABLE

"That's what we need. Our offense is feeling pretty good right now. And our pitching is doing well, so you match those things up and that's when the wins start coming. It's a good sign for us right now." -- Plouffe, on all nine Twins position players reaching safely

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his double in the first inning, Mauer extended his streak of reaching safely to 34 straight games. It's two games short of his career high of 36, done from Sept. 11, 2009 to April 18, 2010.

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Alfredo Simon (12-9, 4.94), who has had Jekyll-and-Hyde outings for the last two months, gets another chance at the Twins, who handed him his roughest outing of the season with seven runs on 10 hits over 2 1/3 innings here in July. Simon starts Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET

Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes makes his return to the rotation on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT against the Tigers after missing a month with lower back inflammation. Hughes threw in a simulated game on Wednesday in Kansas City to get ready for this outing, and he is expected to be limited to 75-80 pitches in his first start back.

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Rhett Bollinger and Jason Beck are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.