Justin Upton and Victor Martinez clutch for Tigers

Posted at 7:30 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 19:30:43-04

MINNEAPOLIS -- Detroit's makeup against Minnesota on Thursday felt like an American Legion game to Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. Justin Upton said the game dragged because of a quiet and sparse crowd.

Upton and the Tigers picked up another win in the AL wild-card chase, beating the Twins 9-2 in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

"These games matter. We should be into them regardless of who's in the stands," Upton said. "But we snapped out of it and started getting some runs."

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, who had missed two straight games because of a swollen right knee, pinch hit had a three-homer home run against Pat Light in a six-run ninth.

Detroit began the day one game behind Baltimore for the AL's second wild card.

The makeup of Wednesday night's rainout drew an announced paid crowd of 18,374, but there were far fewer people in the seats. Fans in the small crowd could be heard calling out to the players on several occasions.

"You can hear every single thing said in the stands," 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."

Anibal Sanchez allowed one run and two hits in five innings in a spot start, and Alex Wilson (4-0), Shane Green and Mark Lowe finished the five-hitter.

Brian Dozier led off the bottom of the first with his 42nd homer, one behind major league leader Mark Trumbo of Baltimore.

Minnesota dropped to a big league-worst 55-97, the Twins most losses since they went 63-99 in 2011. Twins starter Pat Dean gave up one run and three hits in five innings.

"The offense is having a tough time," Minnesota manager Paul 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."

Detroit's Justin Verlander (14-8) was to start against Ervin Santana (7-10) 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."


Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler (concussion) had an on-field workout and could be cleared to play Friday if he feels well after the workout.

Twins: DH/3B Miguel Sano (lower back tightness) was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 12. 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.


Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (10-7) is to start Friday against Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (12-2) in the opener of Detroit's final homestand. Fulmer has lost four of his last six decisions and is 0-2 against Kansas City this season despite a 2.75 ERA in three starts.

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).