MINNEAPOLIS -- After a wild ninth inning that saw both closers blow one-run leads, the Tigers ultimately prevailed with a go-ahead RBI single from Ian Kinsler in the 12th inning in a 7-4, rain-delayed win over the Twins on Wednesday night at Target Field.
The tough loss saw the Twins unable to gain ground in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot, as they remain 1 1/2 games back of the Astros, who fell to the Rangers on Wednesday.
Twins left-hander Brian Duensing took the loss, as he served up Kinsler's go-ahead RBI single with two outs in the 12th. J.D. Martinez gave the Tigers insurance runs with a two-run blast to left.
It came after Tigers closer Bruce Rondon entered with a one-run lead in the ninth, but couldn't hold it after he walked Miguel Sano to lead off the inning. Pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez advanced on a passed ball before scoring on a game-tying double from Trevor Plouffe. Rondon was able to get out of the inning but suffered the blown save.
"He has the look that you want to see from guys pitching the back end of games," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's not afraid of the hitter. He's attacking the hitter. He's just having trouble commanding the ball."
Twins closer Kevin Jepsen also couldn't hold a one-run lead in the ninth. Victor Martinez led off with an infield single, as Jepsen made an off-balance throw to first that Joe Mauer couldn't handle. Tyler Collins followed with a single to right and advanced to second on an ill-advised throw from right fielder Aaron Hicks. It set the stage for a go-ahead two-run single from Jefry Marte
"There were multiple opportunities to win," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We fought our way back in and took the lead in the bottom of the seventh and couldn't hang on. Jepsen's night started auspiciously with the swinging bunt and he probably had more time there. They had some good at-bats to take the lead but we were able to get back to even. We had a lot of baserunners from that point forward but couldn't get anything across, so it's disappointing."
Right-hander Ervin Santana was stuck with a no-decision after he allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings. Santana has gone at least seven frames in each of his last four starts and has a 1.55 ERA over that stretch.
Tigers lefty Daniel Norris -- who finally took the mound after a delay of about an hour at the start -- lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit on Rosario's homer in the third. But he was taken out after throwing 47 pitches, as he was on a pitch-count of roughly 50 pitches after coming back from an oblique injury that kept him out of action since Aug. 19.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Martinez mashes after midnight: So much of the crowd had left by the time J.D. Martinez homered in the 12th that the clank of the ball off the left-field bleachers echoed throughout the ballpark. Martinez's 37th homer of the year was a resounding blast for the Tigers, who needed the add-on runs to give reliever Ian Krol some breathing room in his third inning of work.
Krol K's Mauer: Krol struggled to keep a bullpen role in Detroit this year because he couldn't consistently throw strikes. With two on, no outs in the 10th and a 3-0 count to Mauer, he had no other choice. Krol came back to fan Mauer on a 97-mph fastball, the third of seven consecutive strikes he threw to finish out the inning. Krol's three hitless innings marked a career high, and his 39 pitches were one off his career long. More >
"I'm hoping it actually might be a turning point for him," Ausmus said.
Rosario joins exclusive company: With his solo homer off Norris in the third, Rosario became the 17th rookie to record 10 homers, 10 triples, 10 doubles and 10 stolen bases in a season. He was the first do it since Hanley Ramirez in 2006. He's also just the sixth rookie to reach those marks with at least 10 outfield assists. He later came through with the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh after Torii Hunter tied the game with an RBI single. More >
Defense dazzles behind Santana: Santana was solid for a fourth straight outing, but was helped by several strong defensive plays. Hunter robbed Tigers catcher James McCann with a running catch near the wall in right field in the second, while Rosario made a nice sliding catch to rob Kinsler of a hit in the third. The Twins also turned three double plays for Santana, including two impressive plays from second baseman Brian Dozier, who was able to handle a high throw from Santana in the fourth and made a diving stop for another double play to end the seventh.
"It's disappointing to have those kind of losses because they're kind of magnified with where we're at. You try to learn from those, the young guys particularly. But we come back tomorrow and have the Angels coming in and we're still in a relatively competitive position." -- Molitor
"We show up to win every day, regardless of the standings. That's what we play for. Yeah, we know that they're in the race, and we know that we have a chance to spoil that." -- McCann, on the Twins
Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine's errant sixth-inning throw on Hick's grounder led to a Tigers challenge on whether the ball hit the camera well, as was originally ruled, or the screen in front of it. After a 2-minute, 26-second review, the call stood, leaving Hicks on second base instead of first. Two pitches later, Collins caught Dozier's liner and doubled Hicks off second base to end the threat.
The Twins unsuccessfully challenged a crucial play in the ninth, when Collins singled to right and advanced to second on Hicks' throw to third. Collins was ruled safe by second-base umpire Chris Conroy and after a review, the call was confirmed. A crew chief review occurred in the bottom of the ninth, when pinch-runner Shane Robinson was thrown out at home by shortstop Romine. The call was confirmed by replay.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: After an off-day in Detroit, the Tigers begin their final homestand of the season with a 7:08 p.m. ET matchup against the Royals on Friday night at Comerica Park. Justin Verlander (3-8) will try to rebound from back-to-back losses to Cleveland by beating the Royals for the second time in as many meetings.
Twins: The Twins remain home for an important four-game series against the fellow AL Wild Card-contending Angels that begins Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Tommy Milone starts the series opener and has a 3.67 ERA over his last seven outings, but lasted just 3 2/3 innings his last time out on Saturday against the White Sox..