DETROIT -- The surprising summer of Matt Boyd took a mid-September downturn Tuesday night, and the Twins took advantage of a chance to play spoiler to the Tigers' postseason hopes. Jorge Polanco had three hits and four RBIs as Minnesota built a big early lead and cruised to an 8-1 win at Comerica Park, snapping an 11-game road losing streak.
With the loss, the Tigers fell two games behind the Blue Jays and Orioles, who are tied for the first American League Wild Card.
Boyd (5-4) entered with a 2.56 ERA and .232 batting average allowed in 10 starts and a relief appearance since joining the rotation in early July, including two wins in quality starts over the Twins. But the second-year left-hander was off from the outset, from a downtick in his fastball to battles with his command.
"Not every start is going to be a great start," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "The timing isn't great because we're in September, but there's going to be days when our starters don't have great outings. Even over the next three weeks. So we hope when that happens next time, we overcome it with offense."
Though Minnesota has had its struggles, offense hasn't been one of them lately. Robbie Grossman singled in two runs before Boyd recorded his first out, then Polanco slugged a two-run home run in the third. Once Polanco singled home two in the fourth, he had a career night, and Boyd's night was over, having allowed seven runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. His ERA for the season rose from 3.89 to 4.43.
Twins starter Kyle Gibson (6-9), meanwhile, thwarted the Tigers from there, delivering eight innings of one-run ball for his first win since Aug. 17. He lobbied to manager Paul Molitor to stay in for the ninth, but was removed because he had thrown 108 pitches.
"I wanted to," Gibson said with a smile. "He told me it was mid-September, but I reminded him I'd been out six weeks earlier, so it was like the beginning of August for me. But it didn't work. But I appreciate him giving me the eighth there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Polanco powers up: Polanco finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, a walk and four RBIs. Polanco crushed a two-run shot in the third off Boyd to give the Twins a three-run lead. It was his second career homer and his first while batting right-handed. He also chased Boyd with a two-run single with two outs in the fourth.
"He's coming along well," Molitor said. "He did a nice job early in the game. He drew a walk there at the end, but we were kind of pulling for him to get the triple. He put together good at-bats and it's something he's been doing fairly consistently." More >
Tigers aggressive on bases again: For the second consecutive night, the Tigers tested Byron Buxton's arm in center field and got a run out of it. After Cameron Maybin's one-out double in the first, third-base coach Dave Clark was waving him home before he approached third on Miguel Cabrera's line-drive single to center. Buxton's throw was down the line as Maybin ran past to cut into Detroit's early deficit.
Grossman delivers: Minnesota got out to an early lead with Grossman connecting on a two-run single in the first after a single from Brian Dozier and a bloop double from Polanco. Grossman also doubled in the third and came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Kurt Suzuki.
"The top of the order did a nice job," Molitor said. "Grossman had one early. A lot of guys contributed. It's not something we can say often that we had a nice all-around game."
Cold Salty: The Tigers had one chance to slug their way back into the game, courtesy of back-to-back two-out walks from Gibson to load the bases in the fourth. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has had his share of heroics this season, fell into an 0-2 hole before popping out to second base. His single next time up ended an 0-for-17 streak since hitting a go-ahead two-run homer Aug. 29 against the White Sox.
"That was our best opportunity during the game," Ausmus said, "but at the time, you're hoping you come away with just a run or two, maybe just a couple runs just to cut the lead and then you can cut your way into it as the game goes on, but nothing really happened."
Farmer mows down Twins:Buck Farmer entered after Boyd gave up the two-run single to Polanco in the fourth and struck out the first four batters he faced. Farmer went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks.
"He was outstanding," Ausmus said. "He helped us a ton because it frees up our bullpen the next couple days, especially with [Mike] Pelfrey going in on a pitch count in a couple days."
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Dozier's single in the first extended his hit streak to a career-long 17 games, which is the second-longest active streak in the Majors behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (19). Dozier is also the first Twin with two hitting streaks of at least 16 games in the same season since Kent Hrbek in 1982.
"I feel fine. My mechanics just weren't right in that sense. That's what the problem was today and I wasn't able to do my job because of it." -- Boyd, after saying he didn't feel right physically
"I know what I need to do. I know the adjustments that I need to make and I'm going to make them. Next time I pitch, it's probably going to be against these guys, so you can bet your dollar that I'm going to make the adjustments and be better next time out." -- Boyd
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (8-11, 6.13 ERA) is slated to start for the Twins on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Duffey was hurt by his defense last time out, as he allowed five runs (two earned) over five innings against the Indians on Friday.
Tigers:Anibal Sanchez (7-13, 5.69) starts Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET looking for his first win since he tossed seven quality innings against the Twins on Aug. 23 at Target Field. He hasn't pitched six innings in any of his three starts since then.