Detroit 5, Minnesota 4
When: 8:10 PM ET, Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Where: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ted Barrett, 1B -
Adam Hamari, 2B -
Angel Hernandez, 3B -
MINNEAPOLIS -- The second half the season hasn't been a lot of fun for the Detroit Tigers. Once one of the best teams in baseball, the Tigers are now in last place in the American League Central.
Reducing to being a spoiler, the Tigers played the part perfectly Tuesday, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-4 at Target Field.
The Twins squandered a chance to climb to within one-half game of the Houston Astros for the second American League wild-card spot.
For Detroit, if only for one night, it was a return of the three-letter F-word that has been so elusive over much of the season's second half.
"All wins are fun, no matter how it happens," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon made his early offensive support hold up, as Detroit scored three times in the first two innings, then tacked one in the sixth and one more in the ninth.
Simon (13-9) pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. It was only his third quality start in his past nine outings.
"I just want to finish strong this year," Simon said. "It's hard for the bullpen to throw every game, and that's why I want to go deep into the game."
Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez had three hits and drove in two runs, his first RBIs since mid-August. It was Martinez's first three-hit night since he had four hits against the Seattle Mariners on July 6.
"He swung the bat well," Ausmus said. "He looked good in (batting practice), looked noticeably better in BP, and he carried it right into the game."
Trailing by three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Twins had their best chance to get back into the game.
Center fielder Byron Buxton led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Right fielder Aaron Hicks reached on a bunt single, and Simon got second baseman Brian Dozier to strike out swinging before being lifted for left-hander Blaine Hardy.
Hardy walked Mauer, the only man he faced, ahead of rookie designated hitter Miguel Sano, who ripped a two-run single to left off right-hander Drew VerHagen. With a pair of runners on and the tying run at second, VerHagen got third baseman Trevor Plouffe to ground into a double play. It was the major-league-leading 27th time this season that Plouffe hit into a DP.
After Detroit tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Mauer ripped an RBI double to the gap against Tigers closer Bruce Rondon to make it 5-4. However, the right-hander struck out Sano on three pitches for his fifth save.
Detroit took advantage of a rusty Phil Hughes in the early going. The Tigers posted three runs in the first two innings against the veteran right-hander, who came off the disabled list before the game after missing more than a month because of lower back inflammation.
"Obviously not the start I'd like to have," Hughes said, "but I felt more comfortable as I went along and felt I was able to execute some pretty good pitches there in the third inning."
After getting the leadoff batter in the first, Hushes gave up a single to second baseman Ian Kinsler. A two-out walk to right fielder J.D. Martinez brought up Victor Martinez, who singled up the middle for the first run of the game.
Victor Martinez snapped his 0-for-21 streak with runners in scoring position.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos followed with a single to right, scoring another run, but Victor Martinez was thrown out trying to advance to third, ending the threat.
The Tigers added on in the second, getting a one-out double from catcher James McCann and a two-out single by center fielder Anthony Gose to make it 3-0.
"That was a big hit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He didn't hit it particularly well, but he got it in the right spot."
Hughes, who was on a pitch count, pitched a scoreless third inning before being replaced by right-handed reliever A.J. Achter. Hughes was charged with three runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
NOTES: Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez was shut down with a strain in his throwing shoulder. He will be examined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery on Sanchez's shoulder back in 2007. Sanchez, on the disabled list with a shoulder strain since mid-August, was scheduled to be activated for a Wednesday start. ... With Sanchez out, LHP Daniel Norris will come off the DL to start against the Twins. Norris is 1-1 in four starts with the Tigers since being acquired in a trade for LHP David Price on July 30. He has been out since Aug. 20 with a strained right oblique. ... The Tigers and Twins will wrap up their three-game series at Target Field on Wednesday. Norris (2-2, 4.43 ERA) will oppose Minnesota RHP Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.73 ERA).
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