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Twins try to inch closer to playoff berth versus Tigers

DETROIT -- The Minnesota Twins not only pass the eye test, they pass the 'D' test.

Good defense has been a Minnesota trademark this season as the Twins scramble to keep ahead of the pack in the run to the second American League wild-card spot.

"They have tried to find ways to be able to measure those things a little bit more specifically," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said Saturday before his Twins rallied for eight runs in the eighth inning to post a 10-4 victory over Detroit. "I still think that the eye test sometime is the best test.

"I mean the numbers usually just support what you kind of already know by watching. I've been really pleased that the guys have taken a lot of pride in that side of the game."

Byron Buxton in center and two telephone poles would constitute a good outfield defense, Joe Mauer is among the elite at first, Brian Dozier is reliable at second, Jorge Polanco is steady at short and Eduardo Escobar has been sterling at third since Miguel Sango was injured in mid-August.

"I think coming off of last year and having to listen to me talk about defense in spring training probably more than a couple of times (might be responsible)," Molitor said. "And the effort that they've put in to try to make themselves a better club in terms of that aspect of the game.

"And it's paid dividends. I think it not only shows up on the outs that we have and our ability to get off the field but I think it gives more confidence to your pitching staff when they know that if they throw it over (the plate) the guys are going to make plays."

Right-hander Jose Berrios (12-8 3.94 ERA) will start Sunday for the Twins and his improvement from last year to this is one of the reasons Minnesota holds the second wild-card spot by 4 1/2 games over Kansas City, Texas and the Los Angeles Angels. He lost his last start, in New York.

Berrios started once this season against Detroit without receiving a decision and over his two seasons in the majors is 0-1 in three starts with an 18.00 ERA against the Tigers.

Detroit counters with right-hander Buck Farmer (4-4, 7.11 ERA), who is making his 10th start of 2017 and a late-season audition for a spot in next year's rotation.

Farmer has made only one start amid five career appearances against the Twins in his career and is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in that time. He also lost his last start.

Manager Brad Ausmus isn't into big goodbyes and won't speak to his team about leaving until the last game of the season, in Minnesota.

"I'm not going to plan anything out," he said. "I'll just speak to them from the heart.

"Why finish out the season? I'm under contract for 2017 and my job is to manage the Tigers. And I'm going to do that until I finish the season.

"It's going to be a little bit of a haul for the first couple years. But they're moving in the right direction and I wish Al (GM Avila) and the Tigers nothing but the best."

Ausmus reiterated he knew when Detroit traded Justin Upton and Justin Verlander on Aug. 31 that he was going to finish out the season and his contract and then leave. He called his wife and told her he felt it would be best to let the Tigers bring in another manager to guide the rebuild.

His last home game as Detroit's manager is Sunday.

"I mean, we've had good crowds," he said, "despite the fact that we haven't been playing winning baseball. Quite frankly, I'd like to just win."