The Twins missed a golden opportunity to gain some ground in the American League wild card race Tuesday night, falling to the Detroit Tigers 5-4 at Target Field.
Had the Twins won the game, the furthest out they could have been from the wild card was a 1/2 game.
Detroit survived a seventh inning rally by the Twins. Trailing 4-1, with the bases loaded and one out, Miguel Sano hit a two-run single to cut the Tigers lead to one. But Trevor Plouffe ground into his 27th double play of the season to end the inning.
The Twins had another threat in the bottom of the ninth. After Brian Dozier drew a two-out walk, Joe Mauer ripped a double to score Dozier and cut the Tigers' lead to one. But Sano couldn't do it again, striking out on three pitches to finish the game.
The Tigers took an early lead off Twins starter Phil Hughes (10-9) by scoring two in the first and another in the second to build a 3-0 lead.
It was Hughes' first start since Aug. 9 as he returned from the disabled list. But the righty lasted just three innings and was tagged with the loss.
Tigers starter Alfredo Simon (13-9) gave up one run on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four to pick up the victory.
Bruce Rondon gave up one run in the ninth, but held on for his fifth save.
Victor Martinez led the Tigers' offense. He was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Tigers catcher James McCann also had a three-hit night and scored a run.
Ervin Santana (5-4) will take the mound on Wednesday against Daniel Norris (2-2), who will go for the Tigers.