MINNEAPOLIS — Down a couple of key cogs in their lineup, the Detroit Tigers didn’t flinch.
The all-around performance was well-timed, with little room left on the schedule for stumbles.
Matt Boyd bounced back from a bad start by breezing through eight innings, backed by home runs from James McCann and Miguel Cabrera as the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Tuesday night to cut the deficit between them and the second AL wild card spot to 1½ games with 12 to go.
“This is what you live for. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Boyd (6-4), who lost 8-1 to the Twins at home last week.
Boyd gave up a homer to Robbie Grossman in the seventh among only three hits allowed. He matched his career best with seven strikeouts and walked just one, after being pounded by Minnesota for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings on Sept. 13.
“He was on tonight, and you’ve got to tip your hat to him,” Minnesota’s Byron Buxton said.
Detroit played without Victor Martinez (bruised knee) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (concussion-like symptoms), both having been hit by pitches from Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer on Sunday.
McCann, in the designated hitter role for Martinez, sent a three-run shot into second deck above left-center in a four-run sixth against Hector Santiago (12-9). Cabrera hit his 34th homer the following inning, a two-run drive against Michael Tonkin.
Cabrera is batting .375 in 32 at-bats over seven games at Target Field this season, with five doubles, three homers, seven runs and six RBIs.
Cameron Maybin had an RBI triple, Justin Upton drove in two runs and everybody in the lineup had at least one hit for the Tigers, who damaged their playoff push with a four-game split against the worst-in-the-majors Twins last week. They’re only 8-9 this month.
Brian Dozier had a lonely leadoff single in the bottom of the first and stole second base with none out, only to be stranded by Boyd. Kepler walked in the second inning and was quickly caught stealing. Then Boyd retired 14 straight batters until Grossman went deep with one out in the seventh.
“That’s a sign of a guy that’s getting more comfortable,” Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
MIGGY CAN MOVE
The significance of the situation wasn’t lost on Cabrera, who started the fourth inning by crushing a double to right field and sliding in to beat the throw from Max Kepler. The hulking power hitter hustled to advance a base by tagging on a fly ball to Buxton in medium-range center field. Then he rumbled home for a 2-0 lead on a groundout to third, sliding underneath catcher John Ryan Murphy’s tag after the throw home to try to get the double play.
“We had three chances to throw out Cabrera. I don’t know if you ever see that,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Cabrera was initially called out, but the replay review brought a reversal and a rousing round of high-fives in the dugout.
“Anytime a big player does something like that, it pumps everybody up,” Saltalamacchia said.
Said manager Brad Aumsus: “He’s got great instincts on the bases. He’s not 21 anymore, but he still has a pretty good idea of what he is and isn’t capable of.”
Dozier stretched his hitting streak to 23 straight games, the longest for the Twins in nine years since Torii Hunter had one of the same length and the fourth-longest in the major leagues this season.
Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmerman threw another simulated game without physical trouble, trying to return from a neck injury that has limited him to two starts since June that didn’t last past the second inning, but his mechanics aren’t not quite right enough yet to return to the rotation.
Tigers: The likelihood of 3B Nick Castellanos (broken hand) returning this season has lessened, after feeling discomfort on some swings during batting practice on Monday at the minor league complex in Lakeland, Florida.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano (sore back) missed his seventh straight game, but he’s been taking groundballs and batting practice and should be able to play this week. 1B Joe Mauer was given another rest for his ailing quadriceps.
Tigers: RHP Buck Farmer (0-0, 4.07 ERA in 13 relief appearances) was chosen to make his first major league start of 2016 on Wednesday night, the latest to fill Zimmermann’s spot with Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez struggling all season. Farmer has made seven starts over the last two seasons for the Tigers and 20 starts this year for Triple-A Toledo.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.88 ERA) will make his 13th start in the middle game of the series. He finished only four innings in his last turn, but the rookie allowed two runs to match a season low.