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Upton does his part to get Tigers back in game

Outfielder homers, prevents runs with defense
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Upton's fingerprints were all over Saturday's game at Target Field.

The Tigers left fielder practically did it all. On the defensive end, he made catches at the wall and threw runners out. He paced the offense as well, sparking a late rally with the game's only homer. Detroit was unable to reward Upton for his efforts, however, in the 6-5 loss to the Twins, who evened the three-game weekend set.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Upton's fingerprints were all over Saturday's game at Target Field.

The Tigers left fielder practically did it all. On the defensive end, he made catches at the wall and threw runners out. He paced the offense as well, sparking a late rally with the game's only homer. Detroit was unable to reward Upton for his efforts, however, in the 6-5 loss to the Twins, who evened the three-game weekend set.

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Still, Saturday was just another day at the office for the All-Star.

"He's been playing great all season," catcher Alex Avila said. "I joke with him that he's been everywhere."

Video: DET@MIN: Upton throws out Grossman at the plate

With the Tigers down, 6-1, Upton brought life into the visiting dugout with one single swing. In the top of the eighth, Upton faced Minnesota setup reliever Taylor Rogers with two on and one away. Rogers threw three straight curveballs, before Upton deposited the fourth bender to left, which clanked off the foul pole.

According to Statcast™, Upton's three-run homer traveled an estimated 411 feet with an exit velocity of 101.4 mph. It was the only barreled ball on the night and trimmed the deficit to two runs. Detroit had entered the eighth inning trailing by six runs after being befuddled by right-hander Kyle Gibson.

"The three-run homer got us back in the game and ignited the dugout," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "That swing of the bat immediately shifted the game -- for a moment -- in our favor."

For Upton, it marked his 16th home run of the season and first since June 29. He extended his hitting streak to five games and has now hit safely in seven of eight games against the Twins this season. Upton has a .308 average (8-for-26) off the Twins' staff this year.

But Upton provided just as much on the defensive end in the loss.

Video: DET@MIN: Upton makes a nice running catch at the wall

Upton halted the three-run outburst by Minnesota in the third with an inning-ending assist from left field. Robbie Grossman attempted to scratch the team's fourth run from second base on a single by Zack Granite, but was thrown out at the plate courtesy of a laser from Upton. It was his seventh outfield assist, which is tied for second in the American League.

In the fifth, Upton collided with the wall to rob Jason Castro of a hit with a runner on base. Per Statcast™, Castro's flyout had an exit velocity of 96.5 mph and went 355 feet, and had a hit probability of 35 percent. The catch was just another example of Upton contributing in every aspect.

"He's unbelievable offensively, [and defensively] throwing the ball well, running things down," Avila said. "He's been the total package."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Tigers on Saturday.

Detroit Tigers, Justin Upton