Twins drop Tigers, enter break 2nd-best in AL
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will head to the All-Star break with the second-best record in the American League, as they finished an impressive homestand with a 7-1 win over the Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Target Field.
At 49-40, the Twins only trail the Royals in the AL, and are 4 1/2 games up on the Tigers -- whose record dropped to .500 (44-44) -- after taking three out of four and going 6-1 on their homestand against Baltimore and Detroit.
Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson tossed seven strong innings, allowing just the unearned run on four hits with six strikeouts. He finishes the first half with a team-leading eight wins and a 2.85 ERA.
Tigers right-hander Shane Greene struggled, allowing seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. He allowed a two-run homer to rookie Miguel Sano in the first before the Twins broke out for four runs in the fourth, keyed by an RBI single from Aaron Hicks and a two-run triple from Danny Santana. Trevor Plouffe gave the Twins an insurance run with a solo shot in the fifth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Minnesota's offense keeps rolling: The Twins won their third straight over the Tigers, outscoring them by a 24-12 margin. It marked the third straight game with at least seven runs scored, as they've carried the momentum from their seven-run ninth inning in Thursday's epic walk-off win. More >
"Offensively, the middle and bottom picked us up a little bit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Sano got us up and running and we didn't look back from there."
Greene struggles in first start back: Greene got the call back to the Majors for the start. He got off on the wrong note, giving up a home run on a curveball down the middle of the plate to Sano in the first inning. He pitched only one 1-2-3 inning in his outing.
"I couldn't avoid the big inning and I made two mistakes that I paid for," Greene said.
Gibson finishes first half strong: Gibson posted a 1.30 ERA over his final three starts and a 2.09 ERA going back to his final six outings. He was helped by three double plays, and the one run he did allow came on a missed double play that saw Marc Krauss pick up an RBI groundout. Gibson's 2.85 ERA is the fourth-lowest by a Twins starter entering the All-Star break dating back to 1992, but Gibson said he's not paying much attention to his ERA.
"I try not to watch that too much and just focus on each outing," Gibson said. "I'm definitely excited about it, but Mollie came up to us when we were giving high fives just to remind us that the work isn't done and there's a long way to go. So right now, 2.85 doesn't mean too much."
"It's tough when you're in a hole early to bounce back, especially when you've got a good pitcher like Gibson on the mound," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Tigers limp into break: After winning the the series opener Thursday, the Tigers looked poised to take Friday's game, too. They were up 6-1 going into the ninth, but after a bullpen collapse, they lost that game and the next two. They head into the All-Star break having lost four of their last six games. More >
"I think it's a good break at the right time," designated hitter Victor Martinez said.
"I tell you what, a lot of those critics can eat their words. We went out and proved a lot of people wrong. It was just sheer will to go out there and grind every day and prove people wrong. We're a winning ballclub, and now we're starting to believe that and we're more consistent about it." -- Torii Hunter, on the Twins' first half
"Play better. It's simple. Play better. Play better. Be better. Pitch better. Better defense. If [anyone] wants to win, especially a championship, we have to play better. You can't win the way we're playing right now. It's simple." -- Martinez, on what the Tigers need to do in the second half
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 49 wins before the All-Star break are the most for the Twins since 2008, when they were 53-42. It also marks the first time the Twins have had a winning record heading into the break since 2010.
The Twins wasted no time using a challenge, as leadoff hitter Brian Dozier was ruled out at first base by first-base umpire Mike Winters on a close play in the first inning. After a review, the ruling on the field stood as called.
Tigers: Anibal Sanchez will take the mound for the Tigers as they return from the All-Star break with a three-game series against Baltimore beginning on Friday night at 7:08 ET. Sanchez finished the first half 8-7 with a 4.63 ERA, winning five of his last six starts entering the break.
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana is set to start the first game after the All-Star break on Friday against the A's at 9:05 p.m. CT. Santana has a 6.00 ERA in two starts since coming back from an 80-game suspension for the use of a performance-enhancing drug.
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