MINNEAPOLIS -- Early run support by the offense backed a solid showing from right-hander Kyle Gibson to ultimately help the Twins edge the Tigers, 6-5, on Saturday at Target Field. Minnesota staved off a late push by Detroit to snap its three-game losing streak to the American League Central rival. The Twins also kept pace in the division, as both the Indians and Royals won.
Gibson spun a season-best 7 1/3 innings of three-run ball to earn his sixth win of the year. It marked his longest outing since he tossed eight frames on Sept. 13, 2016, against the Tigers. Alex Presley notched three of the Tigers' five hits off Gibson, including an RBI double in the eighth to chase Gibson out of the game. Gibson struck out five batters and walked three, lowering his season ERA to 6.08.
"Gibby was really good, and I don't know if you want to call it his best start or whatever, but we talk about his strike percentage when things aren't going well and this might've been his best," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He threw first-pitch strikes, and I thought he had good stuff. But it turned in a hurry. But we'll take the win."
Following Gibson's exit, Justin Upton crushed a three-run homer off Twins lefty Taylor Rogers. According to Statcast™, Upton's 16th home run traveled an estimated 411 feet with an exit velocity of 101.4 mph. All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler tallied the final four outs, which rewarded him with his 27th save of the season. Kintzler was helped by a great defensive play from left fielder Eddie Rosario to open the ninth, as Jose Iglesias laced a ball down the left-field line, but was thrown out at second by Rosario for the first out.
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"I'm not sure if he went with his head down and just didn't see it, or he thought he had a beat," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He hit the heck out of the ball, credit Rosario with playing the ball well off the wall and making a perfect throw."
Minnesota plated five runs across the third and fourth innings off Detroit righty Jordan Zimmermann, who lasted a season-low 3 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits with four walks and one strikeout. Every starter in the Twins' lineup recorded a hit, while Zack Granite paced the offense with his first career three-hit contest.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early outburst: Minnesota cashed in three runs in the bottom of the third and never looked back. After Zimmermann cruised through the first two frames, the Twins tacked three straight one-out singles off him, including an RBI base knock from Joe Mauer. Robbie Grossman, who was 1-for-12 this homestand entering Saturday, drove in a run with a double into left-center. Rosario capped off the early attack with a sacrifice fly. The Twins are now 29-19 this season when scoring first.
"We came out on the short end, but we showed a lot late in the game there," Zimmermann said. "Obviously, this loss is on me. I have to do a better job. If I limited the damage a little less, we are winners tonight."
All-Star magic: The Tigers batted around in the top of the eighth to nearly wipe away a six-run deficit. Kintzler was tasked with getting an extra out, marking his fourth appearance in the eighth frame, but the first Detroit batter reached on an error by Miguel Sano. Clinging to a 6-5 advantage, Kintzler bounced back and got first baseman Andrew Romine -- playing for the injured Jose Cabrera -- to roll into an inning-ending groundout.
"Basically, I'm just coming in for one out, so I don't care if anyone is on. I was just focusing on getting him out and not make the situation bigger than it is," Kintzler said. "I ended up facing an extra guy. But same thing, I just needed one out, so I tried not to do anything special with it."
The first and only challenge of the game came from the Tigers in the top of the eighth. Detroit lost its second challenge in as many days, this time on a groundout to second base by Nicholas Castellanos. The call stood after a review that lasted one minute and 42 seconds, marking the second out of the frame.
Tigers: Left-hander Matthew Boyd (3-5, 5.58 ERA) is slated to take the bump for Detroit in Sunday's 2:10 p.m. ET rubber game. In his last start, Boyd overcame a three-run first inning to earn the victory over Kansas City. He is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts against Minnesota.
Twins: Rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.22 ERA) will take the mound in the series finale against the Tigers on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Mejia was solid last time out, limiting the Yankees to one run over 5 1/3 innings.
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