MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota is now the worst Twins team since 2011. With more than a week left to season, more marks are likely to fall.
Justin Upton and Victor Martinez homered as the Detroit Tigers picked up another win in the AL wild-card chase, beating Minnesota 9-2 Thursday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
Upton hit a tiebreaking homer off Alex Wimmers (1-3) in the seventh for a 2-1 lead. Jose Iglesias had a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Martinez hit a three-run homer against Pat Light in a six-run ninth.
“We’ve seen a lot of those games that seem to deteriorate late,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “You’re hoping your guys can keep it close and give your offense a chance to somehow get even or take the lead late. But we’ve had a tendency to put some crooked numbers up late on the wrong side of the board.”
Brian Dozier led off the bottom of the first with his 42nd homer, one behind major league leader Mark Trumbo of Baltimore.
Minnesota has lost five straight and dropped to a big league-worst 55-97, its most losses since they went 63-99 in 2011.
“The offense is having a tough time,” Molitor said. “We’re not putting much together. Some guys are scuffling. We’re trying to find a way to create some offense. It just isn’t happening right now.”
The makeup of Wednesday night’s rainout drew an announced paid crowd of 18,374, but there were a lot fewer spectators to actually show up. Fans in the small crowd could be heard calling out to the players on several occasions.
“The one thing is you can hear every single thing said in the stands,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “When you have a big crowd, everything is kind of just a buzz. But you could hear every single thing said; they had some fairly good barbs thrown out.”
Pat Dean made his first start since Aug. 31, when he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland. The only run he allowed Thursday was when Cameron Maybin scored in the first on a double-play grounder by Miguel Cabrera.
“I was trying to stay locked in and focused on getting the hitters,” Dean said. “It was definitely a little weird being able to hear everybody have their conversations off on the side.”
Anibal Sanchez allowed one run and two hits in five innings in a spot start for Detroit, and Alex Wilson (4-0), Shane Green and Mark Lowe finished the five-hitter.
Ervin Santana (7-10) was to start for Minnesota against Justin Verlander (14-8) in the night game.
Dozier has an AL record 40 homers as a second baseman, one more than Alfonso Soriano’s total in 2002. Only Rogers Hornsby (42 in 1922), Davey Johnson (42 in 1973) and Ryne Sandberg (40 in 1990) have hit more.
Dozier extended his hitting streak to 24 games, tied for the third-longest in Twins’ history.
“It’s unfortunate for him that he hasn’t been able to celebrate a lot of those home runs with the losses,” Molitor said. “Impressive run continues, hitting streak’s alive.”
Twins: DH/3B Miguel Sano (lower back tightness) was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 12. Manager Paul Molitor said Sano was still sore but was anxious to return. … Molitor confirmed RHP Trevor May has a stress fracture in his back. May was 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 44 relief appearances. He made three trips to the DL with the injury, which hadn’t been detected in previous exams.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (6-10) is slated to make his final home start of the season on Friday against Seattle, which will start LHP James Paxton (4-7).
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