MINNEAPOLIS — Shane Greene got the key out that sparked the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Jose Iglesias had three hits, including a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh, and Greene struck out Eduardo Escobar to preserve the lead in a 9-6 win over Minnesota 9-6 that took 4 hours, 19 minutes — the longest nine-inning game in Twins history.
Ian Kinsler, James McCann and Alex Presley also had three hits apiece for the Tigers, who took two of three from the Twins. Minnesota fell into third place in the AL Central, 2½ games behind Cleveland and one game back of Kansas City.
Iglesias’ two-run drive off Trevor Hildenberger (1-1) into the second deck put Detroit ahead 4-2 in the seventh. Minnesota loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half, then scored a run when Ian Kinsler booted a potential inning-ending double play.
With the bases still loaded and two outs, Escobar worked the count full, then fouled off four straight 95 mph fastballs before Greene struck him out on the 13th pitch of the at-bat.
“To me, that was the game,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “If he ends up walking him, the game’s tied. It changes the whole complexion of the game.”
Detroit added five runs over the final two innings against Minnesota’s battered bullpen, which has allowed the second-most runs per game in the AL this season.
“We hung in there with the game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s just disappointing when you keep fighting but you give up — I don’t know how many we gave up the last few innings, but crooked numbers each and every one.”
Matthew Boyd (4-5) won his second straight start since he was recalled from the minors, striking out a career-high eight in six-plus innings. He allowed three runs, four hits and three walks.
“You just have to live in the moment and execute the pitch you’re throwing. Just execute this pitch,” Boyd said. “That’s been the big thing. It’s been my main focus and that’s what it was today.”
Justin Wilson got four outs for his 12th save in 14 chances.
Escobar tied the score in the third with a two-run homer into the third deck in left, a drive that would have gone 438 feet unimpeded, according to MLB’s Statcast.
Four innings later, with the game on the line, Greene won the battle with Escobar.
“He’s a good pitcher. He was throwing his best stuff to me,” Escobar said through a translatorr. “Obviously I was trying to hit the ball up the middle, but that last pitch, he beat me. That’s fine. That’s the game.”
With their sub-.500 record and a handful of veterans a contending team might covet, the Tigers have been the subject of heavy speculation as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. General manager Al Avila already dealt RF J.D. Martinez to Arizona for prospects.
“I thought J.D. was probably inevitable. I’m not sure anything else is inevitable,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
Minnesota announced during the game it had traded minor league pitcher Nick Tepesch to Toronto for cash.
Both teams announced roster moves after the game. The Tigers optioned OF Jim Adduci to Triple-A Toledo and recalled RHP Drew VerHagen. The Twins designated LHP Craig Breslow for assignment.
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, his first appearance since leaving Friday after he took a ground ball off his right collarbone.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton (strained groin) is to be activated before Tuesday’s game at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander (5-7, 4.54 ERA) is to start Monday’s homestand opener against Kansas City. Verlander allowed two runs over seven innings in a no-decision at Kansas City on Wednesday.
Twins: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-9, 8.19 ERA) makes his second start for Minnesota in Tuesday’s series opener at Dodger Stadium. He gave up four runs over four innings in his Twins’ debut last week, a 9-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
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