The Detroit Tigers were unable to wrap up the AL Central in front of their home fans.
But considering their weak competition over the final week, they shouldn't have too much trouble doing so on the road.
The Tigers' magic number to clinch the AL Central remained at two following a 6-3 home loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday as well as Cleveland's 9-2 victory over Houston. Even with a Detroit (91-65) win on Monday, the division couldn't be clinched until Tuesday night at the earliest, when the Indians open their series with the White Sox.
Playing without Miguel Cabrera on Sunday due to groin soreness after he was 3 for 4 in Saturday's 7-6, 12-inning victory, the Tigers were unable to produce a similar late rally. However, Texas' 4-0 loss at Kansas City guaranteed Detroit at least a tie for a wild card.
Cabrera said he hopes to play Monday."Everybody wanted to clinch at home," said Brayan Pena , who scored in the ninth after doubling as a pinch-hitter. "But it doesn't matter how we do it. We just want to do it, because if we do it, everybody knows that we're coming back here. And those fans, they really deserve that."
After this series, the Tigers close their season with three games against NL-worst Miami.
"We should be envious of the situation they're in," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official website. "Hopefully, guys watching that can see where we need to get to. It should be making them hungry for it. We don't want to see all this, we want to play good baseball."
The Twins (65-90), who come off Sunday's 11-7 loss at Oakland and are 3-14 in their last 17 at home, have had a hard time beating Verlander. The right-hander is 9-0 with a 2.22 ERA in 11 starts against them since suffering a 2-0 loss April 27, 2010.
He didn't get a decision while struggling in the last meeting, however, giving up six runs and 10 hits over seven innings of a 7-6 loss on Aug. 22.
Verlander (13-12, 3.66 ERA) is 1-4 with a 4.12 ERA over his last eight outings, with Detroit winning just once. His walk rate of 3.1 per nine innings is his highest since 2008, also the last season in which he posted a higher ERA than the one he currently owns.
Minnesota will counter with Mike Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34), who is in danger of losing his fourth straight start for the first time since dropping six in a row from April 25-May 26, 2008. He has recorded a 10.13 ERA in his latest three losses, throwing only 13 1-3 innings. The right-hander also received exactly one run of support in each of his last five starts.
Pelfrey is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts versus Detroit this year. Omar Infante , who is batting .360 over his last six games, is 15 for 37 off him.
Prince Fielder has hit safely in eight consecutive games after connecting for his 25th home run Sunday and is 8 for 23 versus Pelfrey with three homers.
|September 19, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|September 19, 2013||Phil Coke||Day-to-Day||Elbow|
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|September 19, 2013||Trevor Plouffe||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist soreness|
|August 30, 2013||Samuel Deduno||60-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|August 30, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||60-Day DL||Fractured left tibia|
|August 29, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left shin injury|
|August 20, 2013||Joe Mauer||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 16, 2013||Oswaldo Arcia||Day-to-Day||Sore wrist|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Justin Verlander 's curveball was snapping, Torii Hunter 's bat was clicking and the Detroit Tigers appeared to be creeping ever closer to locking up their third straight AL Central title.
When their bullpen couldn't hold the lead against Minnesota's anemic offense, another chance to reduce their magic number went swirling down the drain.
Josmil Pinto hit an RBI single in the 11th inning and the Twins overcame 12 strikeouts by Verlander to beat the Tigers 4-3 on Monday night.
The Tigers led 3-0 in the eighth, but Jose Veras gave up RBI doubles to Eduardo Escobar and pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit . Brian Dozier led off the ninth with a tying homer against previously perfect closer Joaquin Benoit .
Dozier opened the 11th with a single off Luke Putkonen (1-2) and advanced on a wild pitch. Pinto punched a single to right field to give manager Ron Gardenhire his 998th career victory.
Verlander gave up six hits and walked three in six shutout innings for the Tigers, who entered needing two wins - or one victory and a loss by idle Cleveland - to lock up the division.
"Obviously, it's tough," Verlander said. "We're sitting here knocking on the door and every win counts. It was a tough pill to swallow, but that's the lovely thing about baseball. We come out here tomorrow and we have another day and another crack at a win."
Anthony Swarzak (3-2) pitched the 11th for the win.
Hunter had two doubles, a single and an RBI for Detroit. Miguel Cabrera had two hits and an RBI while moving gingerly on a sore groin that kept him out of Sunday's loss to the White Sox.
It was a rare stumble for Benoit, who has stabilized the shaky back end of the bullpen since becoming the full-time closer. He had converted 22 straight save chances this season. But the struggles by Veras caused manager Jim Leyland to go to his closer far earlier than he would have liked, and Benoit came on with one out in the eighth to try for a rare five-out save.
"I don't even consider that a blown save because you're asking him to do an awful lot," Leyland said. "He's been absolutely fantastic. He's a very, very outstanding pitcher."
After three straight underwhelming outings by his lofty standards, Verlander was back to his untouchable self against the overmatched Twins.
With his curveball bending and his slider biting as well as they ever have, Verlander struck out the side in the second and third - and the whiffs kept coming.
"He looked like his old self," Dozier said. "His breaking ball was really moving and he was punching guys out."
Five times Verlander got the Twins looking for strike three, four of them with wicked curveballs that froze the hitters. One of them buckled Chris Parmelee 's knees for his 10th strikeout of the game in the fourth inning. Verlander topped 200 strikeouts for the fifth straight year.
"I think I had the best breaking ball I've had all year," Verlander said. "It was really sharp. It was good. I was able to go to it when I wanted to and throw it for strikes."
The right-hander had been tagged for 10 earned runs in his last three starts, a bothersome little skid as the playoffs approach. He also entered the night with a pedestrian 13-12 record and 3.66 ERA that is ordinary by his standards. Maybe an outing against the meager Twins offense will be enough to get him back in the groove.
It was Verlander's third double-digit strikeout game of the season, and first since he fanned 13 Pirates on May 27.
Mike Pelfrey gave up one run on six hits with five strikeouts and three walks in six innings for the Twins.
"The math doesn't change," Leyland said. "Somehow we've got to win two games."
NOTES: Prince Fielder played in his 500th straight game. ... The Indians open a series against the White Sox in Cleveland on Tuesday. ... Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia was a late scratch when he bruised his right knee after running into the wall while chasing down a fly ball in batting practice. ... The Twins struck out at least 10 times for the 60th time this season. The previous team high was 26 in 2001. ... Tigers RHP Doug Fister (13-9, 3.71 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday night against Twins LHP Scott Diamond (6-11, 5.54).