MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Castro backed a strong showing by Bartolo Colon as the Twins defeated the Tigers, 5-1, on Sunday at Target Field in the final game of the regular season. Minnesota, which won 11 of the 19 meetings with Detroit this season, will face the Yankees on Tuesday in the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium.
The game was delayed 40 minutes prior to first pitch, the seventh delay at Target Field this season. The Twins finished with an 85-77 record, which is 26 more wins than they recorded in 2016, and their most victories in a year since a 94-win season in '10.
"It's been a good year. You have to be pleased," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "We have extended our season, and I don't think we are satisfied by any means. One game is tricky, but I know we are going to show up and play well."
Colon wrapped up his 20th Major League season with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, in which he allowed three hits and struck out four batters with one walk. Colon notched his 240th career win, his fifth in 15 starts as a Twin. Alex Presley recorded the only run off Colon, launching a solo shot in the top of the third.
Joe Mauer and Castro provided enough run support to back the veteran hurler. Mauer delivered an RBI double in the first, while Castro drove in two in the fourth with a go-ahead single off Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez. In what could be his final outing as a Tiger, Sanchez gave up three runs on seven hits across five frames.
"I feel good, especially to finish healthy," Sanchez said. "To be able to be on the mound at this point, it's really good."
Castro and Chris Gimenez went deep in the sixth and eighth, respectively, with Gimenez's the first pinch-hit homer of his career. Miguel Sano, who was activated off the disabled list on Friday, started as designated hitter for the second straight game and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He is 1-for-8 since returning from the DL.
"It's one of those things where I don't think [Sano] feels great," Molitor said. "We will see how he feels tomorrow after getting at-bats today and make a decision on how we proceed."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Small ball: The Twins manufactured a pair of runs on three straight singles to open the fourth, which handed them a 3-1 advantage. Following Eduardo Escobar's leadoff single, Byron Buxton recorded a base knock, then immediately stole second base. It marked his 29th steal of the season on 30 attempts, extending his club record to 24 consecutive base thefts without getting caught. Castro drove them both home with a two-run base hit into left.
Castro goes deep: Castro added to his offensive showcase on Sunday with a solo homer in the sixth. According to Statcast™, Castro's 10th dinger went a projected 409 feet with an exit velocity of 108 mph, making it his hardest-hit homer and third-hardest hit of the season. Castro became the ninth Twin to club double-digit long balls, which is the second most in club history. Last season, 11 Minnesota batters hit 10 or more home runs.
"Throughout the course of the season, you have ups and downs," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "This team has remained optimistic and resilient. The fight and passion we put in day in and day out is just off the charts."
"I was second-guessing him, firing off a couple tweets why he brought [Blaine] Hardy in and why he brought [Drew] VerHagen in. And he got the loss. The ceiling is high for him." -- Brad Ausmus on Ian Kinsler, whom Ausmus let manage the game in Ausmus' final contest as Tigers skipper More >
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Mauer finished the regular season with a .305 batting average, his eighth hitting at least .300 and first since 2013. The eight seasons are tied for third most in Twins history with Kirby Puckett, trailing only Tony Oliva (9) and Rod Carew (10).
Minnesota's 11 wins over Detroit mark the club's most victories in a year against the Tigers since going 12-7 in 2009.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana is slated to start the American League Wild Card Game in New York on Tuesday. Santana, who posted a 3.31 ERA in six September starts, has made eight career postseason appearances (2-2, 5.56 ERA).