MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Minnesota’s magic number is down to two, and the Twins have a chance to do something they’ve never done at the Metrodome—clinch a spot in the playoffs.
The Detroit Tigers are coming dangerously close to a feat of their own.
Minnesota’s Brad Radke won his sixth consecutive decision in a 6-4 victory, the Twins’ ninth straight that sent the Tigers to their AL record-tying 117th defeat.
The defending AL Central champions lead Chicago and Kansas City by 5 1/2 games.
“It’s fun for these guys,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Tigers must win four of their final seven to avoid losing more games than anyone in 103 years.
“We’re doing the best we can,” manager Alan Trammell said.
Minnesota is off Monday, while the White Sox host the Yankees and the Royals host the Tigers. The Twins begin a two-game series with Cleveland on Tuesday.
“It’d be nice,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, pondering the possibility of a celebration at home.
It would be good for Detroit, too, which finishes the season with a four-game series against Minnesota. If the Twins are resting their regulars, the Tigers (38-117) might have a better chance to elude a most undesirable record.
Detroit, which dropped its ninth straight game, tied the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117) for the second-most losses in a season since 1900. The 1962 New York Mets (40-120) were the worst, but the Tigers must win four of their final seven to avoid breaking that mark.
“I think we’re all mentally tired a little bit, but we got seven games left and we need to keep battling and see if we can get some wins,” said starter Nate Cornejo, who gave up a season-high 12 hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings.
Though they’re 14-1 against them, the Twins couldn’t criticize the Tigers.
“They’re not giving up,” Radke said.
“We didn’t just cave in,” Trammell said.
But Minnesota came back with four runs in the bottom half against Cornejo (6-17), who’s been Detroit’s best starter this year. The Tigers altered their rotation so he could face Radke.
Dustan Mohr singled, Cristian Guzman drove him in with a triple and scored when Shannon Stewart chopped a single up the middle. Denny Hocking added an RBI single and Corey Koskie eventually drove him in with a double to put the Twins up 4-1.
Radke (14-10) took it from there.
He sprinkled six hits over seven innings, improving to 9-1 in the second half. Radke, who recorded three of his six strikeouts in the fifth, has now faced 116 batters without allowing a walk—that’s a span of four starts.
“He’s having a great second half, as all our pitchers are,” Pierzynski said.
Mohr singled in the fifth and advanced to third when Cornejo’s pickoff throw sailed into the bullpen for Detroit’s third error of the game. Guzman drove him in with a single and scored on Hocking’s sacrifice fly, giving Minnesota a 6-1 lead.
Cornejo’s string of eight straight starts lasting six innings or more ended, and his ERA rose to 4.70. He issued one intentional walk and struck out two.
“It kind of takes its toll on everybody,” Cornejo said of the looming loss record. “We want to put that out of our minds and have fun, but we all knowwhat’s going on.”
Guzman tied Kirby Puckett for second place on the Twins’ all-time triples list with 57. … Detroit 3B Shane Halter left after the fourth inning with a mild strain of his right quadriceps muscle. He was replaced by Kevin Witt. … Paid attendance was 33,396. Minnesota has averaged 33,914 fansthrough the first six games of its final homestand.