MINNEAPOLIS — The Detroit Tigers gained ground in the American League wild card race on Wednesday night, even though they were rained out in Minnesota.
Thursday’s doubleheader gives Detroit another big opportunity to climb in the wild card standings.
Wednesday’s game was delayed by rain in the bottom of the third inning with the two teams scoreless and was postponed 90 minutes later leading to a split doubleheader on Thursday.
Despite the rainout, the Tigers moved within a game of the Orioles for the final AL wild card as Toronto lost 2-1 at Seattle and Baltimore was beaten 5-1 by Boston.
Right-hander Buck Farmer started for Detroit on Wednesday and had allowed one hit in 2 2/3 innings. Minnesota rookie Jose Berrios had stranded runners on third in the first two innings while giving up two hits and two walks.
Berrios entered the game with an 8.88 ERA in his first 12 major league starts, which included an 0-1 mark against the Tigers with a 19.06 ERA.
“You’re just looking for things to make him feel a little bit better about what he’s doing,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We talked about after those innings when he’s able to get off the field unscathed even though he’s had a rough time, and how he can build on those things. It’s kind of like it never happened because its going to get washed away, but at least in his mind he knows he went out there and competed pretty well for three innings.”
Verlander has won 11 of his last 12 decisions against Minnesota with a 2.28 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings. Santana hasn’t recorded a decision in his last three outings, despite allowing just four runs in 18 innings.
The postponement could prove beneficial for a few injury situations for both teams.
Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Victor Martinez were both out of Wednesday’s lineup. Kinsler likely wouldn’t be ready for Thursday as he deals with a concussion. Martinez has swelling in his right knee after being hit by a pitch on Sunday.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano came to the ballpark on Wednesday with a little stiffness after a rigorous workout on Tuesday, Molitor said. Sano has been out since Sept. 12 with a back injury, but Molitor left open the possibility that he could return to the lineup on Thursday.
“We’ll see how he does tomorrow,” Molitor said. “I know he did some cage stuff today. I’m hoping that he can swing. We don’t have a ton of players, considering where we’re at, so it would be nice if we can spread the workload out a little bit tomorrow.”
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who is third in the AL with 41 home runs, was hit in the ribs by a pitch in Wednesday’s abbreviated game.
“We have to wait to see how he feels tomorrow,” Molitor said. “It was kind of up in the rib section. Hopefully he’ll be OK to find his way in there tomorrow in the early game, and we’ll see how he does.”
Anibal Sanchez (7-13, 5.90 ERA) will start the day game for Detroit against Minnesota’s Pat Dean (1-6, 6.71). The finale of the three-game series will feature Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander (14-8, 3.22) facing the Twins’ top starter in right-hander Ervin Santana (7-10, 3.53).