The division-leading Tigers will try to earn the first of those victories against the second-place Twins on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
In the opening game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Minnesota (82-75) trimmed its deficit to one game with a 3-2 victory in 10 innings, but Detroit (84-73) responded with a 6-5 victory in the nightcap to regain its original lead coming into the four-game series.
The Tigers led 5-0 after five innings before Minnesota put up two runs in the sixth and eighth to make it a one-run game. Detroit’s Curtis Granderson(notes) drove in the key run with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth—his second of the day and third in as many games.
Granderson has a career-high 30 homers and is four RBIs shy of matching his career-best 74 in 2007.
“I thought both teams put on a good show for the fans for this time of year in a pennant race,” said manager Jim Leyland, who is attempting to lead the Tigers to their first division title since winning the AL East in 1987.
Getting another win won’t be easy as they’ll face Carl Pavano(notes) (13-11, 4.86 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five starts against Detroit this season. Two of those victories have come since the right-hander was acquired by Minnesota from Cleveland on Aug. 7.
Pavano also comes in searching for a season high-tying third straight victory after winning in Kansas City on Friday. After receiving five runs in his previous five starts, he benefited from eight runs over six innings during a 9-4 win.
Pavano yielded four runs and eight hits—including two homers—over six innings.
Acquired from Oakland at the end of July, Cabrera drove in the game-winning run in Tuesday’s opener and added three hits in the finale to extend his streak to 10 games. He’s hit .419 in that time, and catcher Joe Mauer(notes) has batted .404 since Sept. 13 to boost his major league-best average to .367.
“This is playoff baseball - we just got started a little early this year,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Bonine lost his only start against the Twins on July 2 at the Metrodome as Mauer’s hit sparked a five-run third inning in a 7-0 win.
Since returning to the rotation Sept. 16, Bonine is 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA and has received two runs of support in those two starts. He got none while suffering the loss Friday in Chicago despite giving up two unearned runs and two hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Cabrera has a team-best five home runs and 14 RBIs against the Twins this season, and will try to help the Tigers reach 50 home wins for the first time since they finished 50-31 in 1988.
Detroit has been tied or alone in first place since May 10 and no major league team has remained in first place from that date or sooner to lose the division title in the last week of a season.