Martinez helps Tigers beat Twins 5-4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Phil Hughes is supposed to be the veteran starter the Minnesota Twins can turn to in a playoff race.
Injuries and ineffectiveness have left him as another question mark.
Victor Martinez had three hits and two RBIs to spoil Hughes' return, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Minnesota (75-69) is 1 1-2 games back of Houston for the second AL wild card, but Hughes (10-9) lasted just three innings in his return from a month-long stint on the disabled list with a back injury.
''At this stage in the season, it's all about wins and it's just disappointing to get off to that kind of start,'' Hughes said. ''That can kind of swing the momentum and it put us in a hole early.''
Hughes allowed two runs in the first off three hits and a walk, and Detroit scored again in the second. He was charged with six hits, walked one and struck out four while throwing 65 pitches.
Neither Hughes nor Twins manager Paul Molitor knew what the next step is for Hughes, with Minnesota needing a starter for Sunday. Hughes could be considered, as could rookie Tyler Duffey.
''I was curious enough about seeing if he was going to be able to do something to come back and help us here in the last three weeks, and I didn't have the luxury of waiting too much longer,'' Molitor said. ''Just thought it would be something that would be good for our team if he could go out there and try to find a way to keep us in the game midway through the game, it just didn't work out that way.''
Alfredo Simon (13-9) pitched into the seventh inning for Detroit (66-78), which was officially eliminated in the AL Central after winning the division title each of the last four years. Bruce Rondon allowed a run in the ninth before finishing for his fifth save.
The Twins trailed 4-1 after six innings, but they had a chance to tie the game in the ninth. Brian Dozier walked and scored on Joe Mauer's two-out double before Rondon struck out rookie slugger Miguel Sano.
''When he steps up, especially if it's a home run that can beat you, it concerns me,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Sano. ''They were three of the best sliders I've seen (Rondon) throw.''
Sano had a two-run single in the seventh, but Trevor Plouffe grounded into a double play to preserve Detroit's 4-3 advantage. The Tigers added another run in the ninth on Austin Romine's sacrifice.
Simon had allowed at least five runs in three of his previous four outings and struggled to a 6.19 ERA on the road this season. But with Martinez providing the early run support, Simon yielded three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Twins entered with the second-worst batting average in the majors since the All-Star break. They left six runners on base in the first four innings.
STARTERS ARE SET
While Minnesota considers Hughes for Sunday, the team set its rotation for the first three games of a four-game weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels. Tommy Milone will start Thursday, followed by Mike Pelfrey and Kyle Gibson.
Detroit also announced Kyle Ryan and Randy Wolf will start in Monday's day-night doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. This is a makeup of the June 27 postponement.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (rotator cuff strain) will see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday after issues with his throwing shoulder flared up again during a bullpen session on Monday. Ausmus said the team believes Sanchez aggravated the original injury and the rotator cuff is not torn. ... Ausmus said INF Dixon Machado (left hamstring tightness) is feeling better but would be held out until Friday.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (right ankle impingement) will throw in the bullpen on Wednesday. Nolasco has been on the disabled list since June 4 and is unlikely to pitch again this season. ... All-Star closer Glen Perkins (back spasms) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. Perkins has been out since Sept. 1.
Sanchez was expected to return Wednesday, but Detroit will turn to LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.43 ERA) instead. Norris (right oblique strain) will come off the disabled list and make his first appearance since Aug. 19. Minnesota will start RHP Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.73 ERA), who has allowed just three runs in his last three starts, spanning 22 innings.