DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera isn’t a big fan of social media in September.
Shortly after his seventh-inning homer broke a tie and led his Detroit Tigers to a crucial 9-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins, Cabrera talked about keeping negative energy out of the clubhouse.
“This is dangerous,” he said, holding up his cell phone.
Even with a $200 million payroll, the Tigers have had an inconsistent season and are in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight year. They trail the Blue Jays by one game for the second AL wild card, with the Yankees and Mariners only one game back.
“We hear a lot of bad things about how we’re not going to make it,” Cabrera said. “I’ve been here a lot of years and I’ve been through this, but we’ve got a lot of new guys who think about it and read stuff. I tell them not to worry.
“This is fun. We’ve got a chance to make the playoffs. That’s what you play for.”
The Tigers trailed 5-2 in the fourth inning, but put together the offensive performance they’ve been missing while losing five of seven. Ian Kinsler had four hits, finishing a homer short of the cycle, and drove in three runs while scoring two.
“We had a tough loss last night, so we knew we had to come back and win this one,” Cabrera said. “We did it, and now we have to do it tomorrow.”
Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki homered for the Twins.
Both starting pitchers made early exits. Minnesota’s Tyler Duffey allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings, while Anibal Sanchez gave up six in four-plus.
Shane Greene (5-4) got the win, while Ryan Pressly (6-7) took the loss after surrendering Cabrera’s homer.
Bruce Rondon pitched the eighth for Detroit, while Francisco Rodriguez put up a perfect ninth for his 42nd save.
After Sanchez struck out the side in the first, Kinsler and Cameron Maybin gave the Tigers the lead with back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the inning. Kinsler’s RBI single in the second doubled the lead.
Sanchez retired the first nine batters in order, but Dozier launched his first pitch of the fourth into the left-field stands for his 41st homer. The next three batters singled, with Kennys Vargas driving home Jorge Polanco to tie the game.
Suzuki then made it 5-2 with a homer down the left-field line, but the Tigers came back in the bottom of the inning.
Justin Upton walked and scored on Andrew Romine’s RBI single before Kinsler and Maybin hit back-to-back triples to tie the game.
“We scored enough runs in the top of the fourth to win the game, and I gave it right back,” Duffey said. “When you are facing that offense, when you miss, they don’t. They got rolling, and I couldn’t stop it.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor knew his team was in trouble after the walk to Upton. The Tigers’ leftfielder only has a .296 on-base percentage this year, with 40 walks against 165 strikeouts.
“When you get a big inning and get a lead, you want your pitcher to go out there and shut them down,” Molitor said. “That walk was a bad sign, but he still had two outs and could have gotten off the field if he gets Kinsler or Maybin.”
J.T. Chargois replaced Duffey and allowed a tiebreaking single to Cabrera, but Sanchez couldn’t hold the lead. He walked Byron Buxton to start the fifth and Dozier followed with a double to make it 6-6.
Alex Wilson got out of the inning without further damage, and the two bullpens were able to settle the game down until Cabrera’s homer off Pressly with one out in the seventh.
The Tigers added two more runs in the eighth on Kinsler’s second RBI single and a wild pitch.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano missed his second straight game with back stiffness. He’s expected back for Minnesota’s weekend series against the Mets. . Suzuki left the game in the eighth injury with a lacerated chin after being hit in the mask by a foul tip. Molitor said he’s day-to-day, but might see action at DH while the injury heals.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann threw an 80-pitch simulated game Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to fix his mechanics and get back into the rotation. Due to assorted injuries, Zimmermann has only started twice since June and didn’t escape the second inning either time. … 3B Nick Castellanos (broken hand) batted once against Zimmermann before taking himself out of the lineup. He hopes to be back before the end of the regular season.
ODD DEFENSIVE LINEUP
Zimmermann, who mostly faced September call-ups in his simulated game, didn’t get a lot of help from his defense. Instead of one of baseball’s best double-play combinations in Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias, Zimmermann had his fellow pitchers backing him up. Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Fulmer made a nice running catch on a pop up into shallow right, but Mike Pelfrey, Mark Lowe and Justin Verlander weren’t impressive as infielders.
OLYMPIC WEEK CONTINUES
For the third straight day, an Olympic medalist from Rio threw out the first pitch. On Wednesday, it was New Zealand’s Nick Willis, who won the bronze medal in the 1,500-meter run. Willis spent his college career at the University of Michigan, and still lives in Ann Arbor.
The teams conclude their four-game series with the Tigers’ Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 4.76) facing the Twins’ Hector Santiago (11-8, 4.75). Pelfrey hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since July 30 due to a back injury, and is expected to be on a 60-pitch limit.