DETROIT (AP) — The last-place Minnesota Twins have certainly done their part to keep the AL Central race going.
Eduardo Escobar had a homer, four hits and a career-high six RBIs, and the Twins ensured that the division race would come down to the very end with a 12-3 rout of the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night. Detroit leads second-place Kansas City by one game with one to go, but if the Tigers had won Saturday, they would have clinched the title.
“We hit some balls soft, we hit some balls hard,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Balls keep going in the right places for us. It’s putting the ball in play and making things happen.”
Minnesota scored six runs in the fifth. Escobar and Eric Fryer both hit two-run singles during that big rally, and Escobar added a three-run homer in the eighth.
The Tigers have secured a postseason spot, but the division will still be in doubt when they send David Price to the mound Sunday against Minnesota in Game 162.
If the Tigers fail to win their fourth straight division title, they’ll be able to point to their struggles against the Twins as a major reason. Beginning with a series in late August, Minnesota has scored 85 runs in 10 games against Detroit, winning six of them.
Rookie Kyle Lobstein (1-2) allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings for the Tigers.
Ricky Nolasco (6-12) allowed two runs and five hits, including a solo homer by Detroit’s Nick Castellanos in the second.
Castellanos put the Tigers up 1-0, but Lobstein — the left-hander who has given Detroit an unexpected lift down the stretch — couldn’t hold off the Twins in the fifth. Minnesota hit eight singles that inning.
“We can’t do anything about it now,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’ve got a game (Sunday) that we’ve got to win. And I mean, we’ve got to win.”
Tigers left-hander Robbie Ray pitched for the first time in the majors since Sept. 3. Brian Dozier hit Ray’s first pitch over the fence in left field for his 23rd homer of the year, a solo shot that gave Minnesota a 9-2 lead in the eighth.
Ray later allowed the homer to Escobar, who had never driven in more than three runs in a game.
Chris Herrmann had three hits for Minnesota.
Nolasco won for the first time since July 1. Detroit’s best chance to come back was in the sixth, when the Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out. J.D. Martinez popped out, and Detroit only scored one run that inning.
“I was able to make some good pitches when I needed to,” Nolasco said.
Detroit hasn’t clinched a division title at home since 1987. The Tigers did it in the final game that year with a win over Toronto.
There were a few boos from the crowd after Saturday night’s loss.
“I understand why they’re booing. We’re in a situation where we can clinch a division and we give up 20-something runs over the course of two games,” Ausmus said. “If I was sitting in the stands, I’d be booing too.”
Twins: Starting C Josmil Pinto started feeling sick and was taken out before the bottom of the first. Fryer replaced him. … Twins SS Danny Santana was shaken up when Detroit baserunner Andrew Romine slid hard into second to break up a potential double play in the seventh. Santana’s right knee collided with Romine’s head. Both players stayed in the game initially, although both came out amid a number of substitutions after the score got out of hand.
Tigers: Detroit OF Rajai Davis left with a sprain around his midsection. He appeared to hurt himself while grounding out in the second.
Price (3-4) will try to deliver a division title for the Tigers, who traded for him just before the deadline in July. He’ll face Minnesota RHP Kyle Gibson (13-11).
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