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Twins stay in playoff hunt

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MINNEAPOLIS—Tyler Duffey wasn’t around for the Minnesota Twins’ struggles of the previous four years.

And he wasn’t expecting to be around for their resurgence this season.

It’s unclear how much longer the 24-year-old will be pitching so he’s going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Duffey struck out seven while pitching into the seventh inning, and Eduardo Escobar homered and drove in two runs, to lead the Twins to a 7-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers last night.

“I had no idea where I’d end up this year,” admitted Duffey, who was pitching for the first time in a week with the Twins trying to limit his innings.

“I was just hoping to be in Triple-A and finish strong there,” he noted.

“I’m getting the opportunity to pitch in some really meaningful games. That’s all you can ask for,” he added.

Duffey (3-1) gave up one run on seven hits and walked two in 6 1/3 innings.

Joe Mauer, meanwhile, went 3-for-5, extending his streak of games reaching base to 34 for the Twins, who trail the Texas Rangers by one game for the American League’s second wild card.

Kyle Lobstein (3-8) gave up six runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings for the Tigers.

J.D. Martinez had two hits for Detroit but Steven Moya had four of the team’s 11 strikeouts.

The Twins returned home from a 10-day road trip pretty much right where they left off—neck-and-neck with the Rangers for the second wild-card spot.

They play 13 of their final 20 games at home, including 10 in a row against the Tigers, Angels, and Indians.

“They haven’t been overly intimidated by road games or hostile crowds or adversity or tough losses,” noted Twins’ manager Paul Molitor.

“They’ve found a way to bounce back.”

Playing their first meaningful September games in five years, the Twins jumped on Lobstein and the Tigers right off the bat.

Mauer had three hits in the first three innings, Trevor Plouffe’s two-run double highlighted a four-run first inning, and Escobar’s homer landed in the second deck in left field to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead in the fourth.

It was another mess for the Tigers, with Martinez misplaying Plouffe’s opposite field shot off the wall in right, and Lobstein getting hit hard and being charged with a balk all in the first inning.

The Twins sent 17 hitters to the plate in the first two innings.

“It’s like taking a punch to the gut early,” said Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.

“I mean, you hope something sparks you along the way.

“We had some good at-bats, we had some opportunities,” he added.

“We had some guys in scoring position but we didn’t really capitalize in terms of scoring runs.”

Elsewhere in the AL, New York beat Tampa Bay 4-1, Baltimore blanked Boston 2-0, Cleveland upended Kansas City 8-3, Texas downed Houston 5-3, Chicago topped Oakland 8-7 (14 innings), and Seattle dumped L.A. 10-1.

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