Escobar, Dozier power Twins past Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS — As the Minnesota Twins surged to a playoff berth in the second half of the season, the team received big production from a variety of unheralded sources.
Eduardo Escobar might be the biggest revelation of the bunch.
Escobar had three hits and was a triple shy of the cycle, Brian Dozier reached base four times and Minnesota came from behind to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on Friday night.
Dozier and Escobar homered back-to-back in the second inning to put the Twins ahead after Detroit scored three runs in the first off starter Kyle Gibson.
“I think that’s probably one of the bigger reasons why we’re in this position today,” Gibson said. “It was a hit for us when Miggy (Sano) went down for that extended period of time. ... Everybody knows the type of person Esco is and how hard he works. To see him thrive, playing at third base and making great plays and then offensively being a big spark plug, it’s pretty cool.”
Filling in for injured slugger Miguel Sano, Escobar has played steady third base and supplied career-high power numbers, which reached 21 homers when he hit a ball to the second deck in left field on Friday.
“I’m very surprised,” Escobar said. “I never thought at this point of the year I was going to have 21 home runs. But I think it’s a testament to all the work I’ve put in, not only in the field but also at the gym.”
Gibson lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out six batters.
Jose Berrios (14-8) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get the win in his first major league relief appearance, a planned short outing in case he’s needed in relief of starter Ervin Santana for the wild-card game. Matt Belisle recorded his ninth save.
“I still want to win,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “You try to play to win, but you have other considerations too. It worked out well. Gibby had a rough start but we were able to do what we wanted to do in terms of getting Josey in there and getting a feel of coming in
“He’ll probably tell you it felt a little strange. I think he settled in fairly well. But it looked mostly crisp, I think. I don’t know how much difference one outing in that setting will help him if we turn to him at some point down the road, on Tuesday in particular.”
Detroit’s Matt Boyd (6-11) surrendered five runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings. He struck out five.
“Didn’t have my best stuff today, but it could have went a lot better,” Boyd said. “Just want one pitch back, that (fastball) one to Dozier. ... I made a mistake, it’s on me. ... That’s 100 percent on me. It’s unfortunate that kind of dictates the whole night.”
Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the first for the Tigers, becoming just the sixth Detroit player since 1913 to record at least 10 triples, 25 homers and 100 RBIs in a season. He’s the first since Al Kaline in 1956 to record the feat.
Castellanos, who switched to right field in the second half of the season, also became the 10th player in franchise history to have a 100-RBI season at age 25 or younger.
“We’ve always thought that Nick would be a run producer and this is the first time he’s reached that benchmark so guys were happy for him,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “I certainly was happy for him.”
Gibson had been 6-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his previous seven starts, becoming a key member of the rotation and possibly setting himself up on the postseason roster. Gibson also entered the game with 7.8 runs of support per start this season, the highest mark of any AL pitcher with at least 27 starts.
The offense backed up Gibson again.
Escobar doubled in Dozier in the first. Dozier hit a three-run blast in the second for his 34th homer and Escobar followed with his homer just days after his grandfather passed away.
“It makes me very proud being able to honor him that way,” Escobar said. “He means so much to me and probably the reason why I’m here is because of him. He did so much for me and my family growing up; being able to do that for him was fun.
“Obviously now, everything I’ll do on the field will be for him because hopefully he’s watching and I want to make him as proud as I can.”
NOTES: Minnesota activated 3B Miguel Sano from the disabled list before the game. Sano missed 38 games with a left shin stress reaction. Sano grounded out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. The team wants to see if Sano will be able to play in the wild-card playoff game next week. ... Detroit 3B Jeimer Candelario was back in the lineup after missing one game with a left wrist strain. ... Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera was held out for the sixth straight game with a back injury and manager Brad Ausmus told reporters he’d talk with Cabrera to see if Cabrera wanted to play in either of the final two games. ... Twins manager Paul Molitor said rookie RHP Aaron Slegers would start Saturday and he’s leaning toward starting Bartolo Colon on Sunday.