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Dozier strikes big again as Twins top Tigers

DETROIT--Some managers look at their opposition and see one player who they will avoid pitching to in game-altering situations. Apparently Detroit Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus is not one of those managers, or Minnesota's Brian Dozier is not one of ...

Sep 15, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) makes a throw to first to complete a double play in the ninth inning as Detroit Tigers third baseman Andrew Romine (17) slides into second at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) makes a throw to first to complete a double play in the ninth inning as Detroit Tigers third baseman Andrew Romine (17) slides into second at Comerica Park. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)

DETROIT-Some managers look at their opposition and see one player who they will avoid pitching to in game-altering situations.

Apparently Detroit Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus is not one of those managers, or Minnesota's Brian Dozier is not one of those players.

Down 2-0 in the second inning Thursday with two men on base, two outs and first base open, Ausmus elected to pitch to the Twins' hottest hitter over the second half of the season.

Dozier reached out and muscled a flat 2-2 splitter from former Twin Mike Pelfrey into left field for a soft two-run single to cap the four-run frame and lead the Minnesota Twins to a 5-1 victory over Detroit that earned the Twins a split of a four-game series with the Tigers.

"No I didn't," Ausmus answered when asked if he considered walking Dozier, who has hit 24 of his 41 home runs in his last 44 games. "I was going to bring in the lefty at that point, and (Jorge) Polanco is a better right-handed hitter."

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Polanco, a .400 hitter in limited at-bats against southpaws but a .264 batter against right-handers at game time, lined out to center when Ausmus brought left-hander Blaine Hardy after Dozier knocked out Pelfrey (4-10) with his two-run single.

Ausmus did order an intentional walk to Dozier after Byron Buxton tripled with two outs in the seventh. Left-hander Kyle Ryan was on the mound and he fanned Polanco on an outside 1-2 breaking ball to end that inning.

"He had a good first inning," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Pelfrey's 1-2-3 first. "Then I think our guys in general were going to try to attack the fastball, make him try to use some other pitches.

"We put some hits together early, got on the board. Dozier's two-out single, that was the biggest hit of the game. You go from two to four with two outs, those are big runs to put on the board."

Hector Santiago (12-8) stymied Detroit for 5⅔ innings, J.T. Chargois got the last out of the sixth, Alex Wimmers pitched two scoreless innings and Brandon Kintzler nailed down the starter's first win in four decisions at Comerica Park with a scoreless ninth.

"Hector, he had to dance around a little trouble now and then," Molitor said. "But overall, another good performance from him. He's strung together a couple now.

"And Chargois got a big out. He's been putting together some good outings. Wimmer's getting six outs there was huge for us."

Detroit got its only run in the sixth when J.D. Martinez singled with one out against Santiago, and James McCann lined a two-out RBI double to extreme left field.

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"They're super-aggressive," Santiago said of Detroit's hitters. "They missed a couple of fastballs so I just kept throwing them. Those guys go up there to hit. They don't want to walk. They want to hit the ball over the wall."

The Twins added a run in the ninth on Eddie Rosario's infield single, a sacrifice and an RBI single to left by Byron Buxton, making it 5-1.

Pelfrey breezed through the first three hitters in his first start since July 31 but the first four Minnesota batters in the second all reached base and scored.

Kennys Vargas doubled and scored on a single to center by Max Kepler, who went to third when first baseman Miguel Cabrera mishandled Pelfrey's pickoff try for an error. Eduardo Escobar singled Kepler home, Rosario bunted for a hit, Juan Centeno sacrificed and Dozier stroked his two-run single to left on a 2-2 pitch.

"He hasn't pitched in a big league game in a while," Ausmus said. "I'm sure there was some rust that had to be shaken off. He looked good in the first inning, second inning obviously not."

Second-place Detroit is still on the fringes of the rush for the second wild-card spot in the American League and enters a weekend series against first-place Cleveland almost needing a three-game sweep to retain serious hopes of overtaking the Indians in the AL Central. The Tigers entered play Thursday six games behind the Indians.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
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