Clawing back: Tigers top Twins, close WC gap

Clawing back: Tigers top Twins, close WC gap

MINNEAPOLIS -- Injuries depleted the Tigers' lineup, but the Twins couldn't silence it. James McCann's three-run homer, Miguel Cabrera's two-run shot and a pair of Justin Upton RBIs supported Matt Boyd's career-high eight innings, sending Detroit to an 8-1 win Tuesday night at Target Field.

A week after the Twins split a four-game series at Comerica Park, seemingly curtailing Detroit's postseason charge, the Tigers moved to 1 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the second AL Wild Card spot. Toronto is a game ahead of Baltimore in the top AL Wild Card spot.

The win kept the Tigers seven games back of AL Central-leading Cleveland with 12 games left to play.

Despite missing Ian Kinsler (concussion) and Victor Martinez (bruised right knee), the Tigers teed off on lefty Hector Santiago, who had stymied them last Thursday.

"These two guys are a big part of our lineup," Cabrera said. "To score eight runs without these guys is big for us. Big win for us."

Santiago (12-9) didn't allow a hit until Andrew Romine, playing in place of Kinsler, singled with two outs in the third inning. From there, half of Detroit's final 16 batters against Santiago reached base, seven with hits. Cameron Maybin tripled home Romine, Cabrera doubled and scored in the fourth, then McCann's homer punctuated a four-run sixth.

"Their hits were nothing too crazy," Santiago said. "You take away two pitches and it's a different game. I left one pitch over the plate [to McCann], and all night I think that was the only pitch I left over the plate, and he got it."

Boyd (6-4) avenged the seven-run drubbing the Twins handed him a week ago by retiring 18 of 19 batters after Brian Dozier's leadoff single in the first inning. He struck out five consecutive Twins, all swinging, from the end of the third inning into the fifth, nearly matching his total swings and misses from his previous start. Robbie Grossman's seventh-inning solo homer broke up his scoreless performance, but he tied a career high with seven strikeouts.

"He had an outstanding game," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said about his starter. "He did an excellent job. He saved our bullpen, pitched well, got the win. It was good for him to bounce back."

Said Boyd: "I used all four pitches, and at some point in the game, all four were working."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Manufacturing Miggy: Cabrera was in a mood to run when he lined a fourth-inning pitch from Santiago off the bottom of the right-field wall. Cabrera legged out a double on a close slide at second base, tagged up and beat Byron Buxton's throw to third on a J.D. Martinez fly ball, then broke for home on Upton's groundout to third. Though Cabrera was initially ruled out, replay determined that his slide beat catcher John Ryan Murphy's tag, giving Detroit a 2-0 lead. Cabrera had an easier trip around the bases with his two-run homer in the seventh.

"I wanted to stay aggressive on the bases, trying to make something happen," Cabrera said. "You don't have to be 100 percent sure you're going to be safe; if you think you got a chance, you've got to do it."

Tigers challenge play at plate

Dozier extends streak: With his leadoff single in the first, Dozier's career-long hit streak reached 23 games. The second baseman's hit streak is the longest by a Twins player since Torii Hunter also hit in 23 consecutive games in 2007. It's also the fourth-longest hit streak in the Majors this season. But the Twins didn't get another hit until Grossman's homer.

"It's impressive," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's finding ways to extend it even when he's not hitting it over the fence. He banged that ball back up the middle. It's just one of those things where he's finding ways to get it done."

Designated to hit: With Martinez out, McCann made his first career start as a designated hitter, and swung like it. After striking out and fouling out in his first two at-bats, McCann chased Santiago from the game by pouncing on a hanging sinker for a tape-measure three-run homer to the second deck in left, projected by Statcast™ at 439 feet.

McCann's three-run homer

Buxton flashes the leather: Buxton made a highlight-reel catch to rob Jose Iglesias in the seventh. Iglesias lifted a shallow fly ball into left-center, but Buxton, shaded to right-center before the ball was hit, was able to track it down for a diving catch that elicited a standing ovation from the crowd. Buxton covered 80 feet on the play, reaching a top speed of 22.1 mph, per Statcast™. He also had a route efficiency of 96 percent.

"I got a pretty good jump on that ball," Buxton said. "I saw it off the bat pretty well. Just kind of reacted."

Statcast: Buxton flashes leather

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cabrera's home run was the 442nd of his career, tying him with Dave Kingman for 41st place on Major League Baseball's all-time list. Next up is his good friend, Adrian Beltre, currently at 443.

QUOTABLE
"We had three chances to throw out Cabrera. Not sure you'll ever see that. But it was second, third and home, and we weren't able to figure out how to save that run." -- Molitor, on Cabrera's baserunning in the third.

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Buck Farmer (0-0, 4.27 ERA) will move in from the bullpen to make his first start for Detroit this season, taking the mound for the middle game of the three-game series Wednesday at Target Field. Farmer pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings against the Twins in relief last week at Comerica Park. First pitch is 8:10 p.m. ET.

Twins: Rookie right-hander Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.88) is set to start for the Twins in the second game of the series on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Berrios has struggled this year, but the Twins want to give him a chance to finish the season strong. He's looking for his second quality start in 13 tries.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.