Twins' potential WC roster coming into focus

Sano's health remains biggest question if Minnesota secures Wild Card spot

Twins' potential WC roster coming into focus

CLEVELAND -- The Twins haven't punched their ticket to the postseason just yet, but they're in good shape after a four-game sweep over the Tigers that has their magic number down to three with six games remaining.

Twins manager Paul Molitor admitted it's hard not to think ahead about a potential playoff roster, but he says they're not to the point where they're discussing it with the front office yet.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins sweep Tigers, inch closer to WC berth

Twins sweep Tigers, inch closer to WC berth

DETROIT -- The Twins took care of business yet again versus the Tigers, reaching double digits in scoring for the third time in four games with a 10-4 rout to complete a critical four-game sweep on Sunday at Comerica Park. Minnesota outscored the Tigers, 39-12, en route to its first four-game sweep in Detroit since Sept. 10-13, 2004.

With the victory, the Twins maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the Angels, who won Sunday night, while pushing the Royals and Rangers 5 1/2 back. Minnesota has six games remaining, and the magic number to clinch its first postseason berth since 2010 is three. The loss was Detroit's seventh in a row.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colon out to keep WC drive going vs. Tribe

Colon out to keep WC drive going vs. Tribe

After getting swept by the Yankees in New York, the Twins bounced back with a four-game sweep over the Tigers, and they're riding high into a three-game series against the historically hot Indians that begins on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Cleveland will start right-hander Josh Tomlin (9-9, 4.98 ERA) in the series opener, while Minnesota will counter with veteran Bartolo Colon (6-14, 6.63 ERA).

The Twins, who have a 4 1/2-game lead on the Angels and a 5 1/2-game lead on the Rangers and Royals for the second AL Wild Card spot with six games remaining, could clinch their first postseason berth since 2010 during the series in Cleveland. The Indians clinched their second straight division title on Sept. 16, but they're looking to secure home-field advantage in the postseason -- so they have something to play for.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sweep of Tigers showcases Twins' resiliency

Sweep of Tigers showcases Twins' resiliency

DETROIT -- After getting swept by the Yankees in New York, the Twins knew they had to bounce back against the struggling Tigers to remain in the driver's seat in the chase for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Minnesota did just that, completing a crucial four-game sweep over the Tigers punctuated by a 10-4 win on Sunday at Comerica Park. It has the Twins in prime position to make the postseason for the first time since 2010, as they maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over the Angels, who won Sunday night, while pushing the Royals and Rangers 5 1/2 back. Their magic number is down to three with six games remaining.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Molitor sits Kepler for precautionary reasons

Molitor sits Kepler for precautionary reasons

DETROIT -- Twins right fielder Max Kepler was held out of the lineup on Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with a left hip/lower back injury. But he's optimistic he could return on Tuesday in Cleveland after Monday's off-day.

Kepler landed awkwardly on his left side while throwing home in the first inning of Saturday's 10-4 win. He remained in the game but was removed for a pinch-hitter the next inning. After undergoing tests, it was determined Kepler sustained a bruise and he's not believed to have strained his hip.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins storm back, trim WC magic number to 4

Twins storm back, trim WC magic number to 4

DETROIT -- The Twins keep showing their resiliency, and it's helping them inch toward their first postseason berth since 2010. Minnesota overcame a late deficit, rallying for eight runs in the eighth inning to take down the Tigers in a 10-4 win on Saturday night at Comerica Park.

It was the third straight win over Detroit for the Twins, who now lead the Rangers, Royals and Angels by 4 1/2 games for the second American League Wild Card spot. The Twins have seven games remaining, and their magic number to clinch a postseason berth is down to just four.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dozier turns bunt into bizarre leadoff 'homer'

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Dozier turns bunt into bizarre leadoff 'homer'

Brian Dozier went to the plate with a plan as he led off Saturday night's game in Detroit between the Twins and the Tigers. The Twins are in the heat of the WIld Card race, so with every inning of the utmost importance, he decided to try to get them off on the right foot by surprising pitcher Matthew Boyd and his defense with a drag bunt.

It briefly popped in the air, but landed safely in front of third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Although it would have taken a good play to get Dozier, Candelario went for it. His throw went way off line, and Dozier was off to the races.

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Granite hits first career HR after entering to run

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Granite hits first career HR after entering to run

It's been a big week for geologically-named rookie ballplayers. Just days after Rocky Gale hit his first big league dinger, Zack Granite did the same with the Twins during Saturday's 10-4 win against the Tigers. 

But Granite's home run wasn't exactly routine. Sure, he hit his first dinger in the top of the eighth, but he had also entered the game in the same half-inning ... as a pinch-runner for Joe Mauer. 

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Twins show resilience in eight-run eighth inning

Club records three straight RBI hits on 3-2 counts

Twins show resilience in eight-run eighth inning

DETROIT -- It was the Twins' second-biggest inning of the year in terms of runs scored, but in terms of importance, it might've been their biggest inning of the season.

The Twins entered the eighth trailing the Tigers by a run, but broke out for eight runs en route to a comfortable 10-4 win on Saturday night at Comerica Park. It helped Minnesota improve its American League Wild Card lead to 4 1/2 games over the Rangers, Angels and Royals.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins thinking of shuffling rotation

Minnesota may bump Gibson in order to align staff for potential AL Wild Card Game

Twins thinking of shuffling rotation

DETROIT -- With an off-day on Monday, the Twins are debating shuffling their rotation for their series against the Indians.

As things currently stand, right-hander Bartolo Colon is lined up to start the series opener on Tuesday, with left-hander Adalberto Mejia on Wednesday and right-hander Kyle Gibson on Thursday. The Twins discussed possibly pushing back Colon because of his recent struggles with a 7.99 ERA over his last five starts, but manager Paul Molitor said they're expecting him to start on Tuesday.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson guides Twins to victory over Tigers

Gibson guides Twins to victory over Tigers

DETROIT -- Kyle Gibson continued his impressive run by throwing seven strong innings, Byron Buxton went 3-for-4 and Max Kepler and Brian Dozier both homered to lift the Twins to a 7-3 win over the Tigers on Friday night at Comerica Park.

It was the second straight win for the Twins, who moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels and three ahead of the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card spot, pending their results against the A's. Minnesota's magic number to clinch its first postseason berth since 2010 is seven with eight games remaining.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kepler finding new approach against lefties

Outfielder has homered in two straight starts vs. left-handed pitching

Kepler finding new approach against lefties

DETROIT -- With Max Kepler's struggles against left-handers this season, manager Paul Molitor has mostly sat him against lefties in recent weeks, even using infielder Ehire Adrianza in the outfield to replace him.

But Molitor has given Kepler two straight starts against lefties down the stretch, and both times Kepler rewarded him with homers. After a solo homer off CC Sabathia on Tuesday -- his first homer off a lefty all season -- Kepler followed with a solo blast and an RBI single off lefty Daniel Norris on Friday to help the Twins to a much-needed 7-3 win at Comerica Park.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Homework' helps Buxton improve at stealing

'Homework' helps Buxton improve at stealing

DETROIT -- According to Statcast™'s sprint speed metric, Byron Buxton is the fastest player in baseball, but this season he's using his speed to become a better base stealer with the help of manager Paul Molitor, third-base coach Gene Glynn and first-base coach Jeff Smith.

Buxton, whose average sprint speed is 30.2 feet per second, or just a hair faster than Billy Hamilton's 30.1, stole his 22nd straight base without getting caught on Thursday, tying a club record set by Matt Lawton (1999-2000) and Chuck Knoblauch (1994). Buxton, who was 10-for-12 on stolen base attempts last season, is 27-for-28 this year, only getting caught on May 23.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rejuvenated Mauer turning back the clock

First baseman has 3-hit night, reaches milestones in win

Rejuvenated Mauer turning back the clock

DETROIT -- Coupling his numbers since suffering his career-altering concussion in 2013 with an April that saw him hit .225 with four extra-base hits, it was fair to wonder how much Joe Mauer would contribute offensively this year.

But all Mauer has done since early May is hit, as he's in the midst of an impressive rebirth that has him looking like the Mauer of old -- a six-time All-Star and former American League MVP. Mauer came up huge in a critical 12-1 win over the Tigers on Thursday, going 3-for-4 with a two-run double and a walk. It put the Twins in strong position to make the postseason for the first time since 2010, leading the Angels by 2 1/2 games for the second AL Wild Card spot with nine games remaining.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins rout Tigers, increase Wild Card lead

Twins rout Tigers, increase Wild Card lead

DETROIT -- The Twins boosted their chance at making the postseason for the first time since 2010 with a 12-1 win over the Tigers, powered by a three-hit game from Joe Mauer and a two-run single from Byron Buxton to snap a three-game losing streak on Thursday night at Comerica Park.

With the Angels losing to the Indians earlier in the day, the Twins have a 2 1/2-game lead for the second AL Wild Card spot with nine games remaining, including six against the Tigers.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano continues to rehab, but return is uncertain

Molitor says it's hard to predict when third baseman will be ready to play

Sano continues to rehab, but return is uncertain

DETROIT -- Twins third baseman Miguel Sano continues to rehab his left shin in Minnesota, but manager Paul Molitor said it's becoming more and more unlikely he'll be ready to return before the end of the regular season on Oct. 1.

Sano, who suffered a stress reaction from a foul tip off his shin on Aug. 18, continues to take batting practice and participate in running drills at Target Field, but it's been a slow process. Molitor said doctors continue to confer on whether Sano will be able to make it back, but for now the plan is to keep going with his rehab.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

Yanks over Twins in WC Game? Not so fast

Unpredictability of one-game format may negate years of New York dominance

Yanks over Twins in WC Game? Not so fast

There was a moment on Wednesday -- admittedly a brief and fleeting moment, but if you are a Minnesota baseball fan, you take them when you get them -- when it looked like the Minnesota Twins would beat the New York Yankees and even up the season series at three games apiece. This would have been a big deal. The Twins have not split a season series with the Yankees in more than a decade.

The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, thanks to a surprising flurry of hits against Luis Severino, the generally unhittable young Yankees starter. For the season, only Corey Kluber and Chris Sale have allowed fewer hits per nine innings among American League starters. But the Twins scraped together four hits and a walk and took a 3-0 lead. That gave them a roughly 80 percent expectancy of winning the game.

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Joe Posnanski is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy Award-winning writer and has been awarded National Sportswriter of the Year. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite getting swept in NY, Twins look ahead

Minnesota stays positive, keeps eyes on Wild Card with 10 games to go

Despite getting swept in NY, Twins look ahead

NEW YORK -- Even with a new regime and a lineup full of youngsters, Yankee Stadium remains the Twins' house of horrors.

The Twins headed to the Bronx with a chance to pad their lead over the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot, but instead, they were swept in the three-game series, punctuated by an 11-3 blowout loss on Wednesday afternoon. It dropped the Twins to 9-20 at Yankee Stadium since 2009 and 1-8 since '15. They're also 31-78 against New York dating back to 2002, winning their last season series against the Yankees in '01.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins fall in finale, unable to add WC cushion

Twins fall in finale, unable to add WC cushion

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez launched back-to-back homers, and Didi Gregorius also went deep as the Yankees continued to fire on all cylinders in pursuit of a postseason berth, completing a series sweep of the Twins with an 11-3 victory on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Judge connected for his American League-leading 45th homer and Sanchez hit his 32nd homer, tops among all big league catchers, as the Yankees thumped Bartolo Colon for six runs in 3 1/3 innings. Yankees batters collected 15 hits, eight for extra bases, as the Bombers (85-67) secured their 10th win in 12 games to move a season-high 18 games over .500.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Berrios, Rosario, Vargas monitoring hurricane

Berrios, Rosario, Vargas monitoring hurricane

NEW YORK -- With Hurricane Maria making landfall in Puerto Rico, Twins players Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas have been monitoring the situation from Yankee Stadium.

The hurricane is expected to cause widespread damage to the island, and all three players are native Puerto Ricans who represented their country in the World Baseball Classic. Berrios hails from Bayamon near San Juan, Rosario is from Guayama on the southern coast and Vargas is from Canovanas on the northeast side of the island.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins go cold in Bronx, can't add to WC lead

Twins go cold in Bronx, can't add to WC lead

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky first inning to provide six solid frames and Brett Gardner drove in a pair of runs on Tuesday evening, leading the Yankees to a 5-2 victory over the Twins in another meeting of the top clubs in the American League Wild Card hunt.

Gardner and Starlin Castro each had three hits as the Yankees won their sixth straight series. Sabathia limited Minnesota to a solo homer and a run-scoring double-play grounder in a 77-pitch outing, helping the Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox in the American League East chase while moving six games ahead of the Twins for the first AL Wild Card spot.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Forced to throw strikes, Berrios has off night

Twins righty walks four, needs 90 pitches to get through 3 1/3 vs. patient Yankees

Forced to throw strikes, Berrios has off night

NEW YORK -- For as good as Jose Berrios has been in his breakout second season, the 23-year-old still has outings where he clearly fights his command and struggles as a result.

Tuesday was one of those nights, as the right-hander scuffled against the Yankees in a tough 5-2 loss at Yankee Stadium that halted Minnesota's chance to gain a game on the Angels -- who lost Tuesday night -- for the second American League Wild Card spot. Berrios lasted 3 1/3 innings -- tied for his second-shortest outing of the season -- and was hurt by four walks, allowing three runs on five hits.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Santana hopes for chance vs. Yanks in October

Twins righty lined up for possible AL Wild Card Game after taking loss in Bronx

Santana hopes for chance vs. Yanks in October

NEW YORK -- Ervin Santana was mostly solid against the Yankees on Monday night, allowing two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 2-1 loss, but was blunt when asked if he'd take that performance in a potential American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium.

"I want to pitch better than this one," Santana said. "If I get the chance to come here again, we just have to win, no matter how."

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins drop Bronx opener as WC edge narrows

Twins drop Bronx opener as WC edge narrows

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit his American League-leading 44th home run and Jaime Garcia turned in his best start for his new club before Aroldis Chapman extinguished a threat in the eighth inning, converting his first five-out save in more than two years as the Yankees secured a 2-1 victory over the Twins on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

In what could have been a preview of the American League Wild Card Game, the Yankees remained three games behind the Red Sox in the AL East but padded their advantage to five games over the Twins for the first AL Wild Card. Minnesota leads the second AL Wild Card by 1 1/2 games over the Angels.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins putting trust in Adrianza's improved bat

Twins putting trust in Adrianza's improved bat

NEW YORK -- When the Twins claimed Ehire Adrianza on waivers in February, they added him to the roster mostly because of his elite infield defense, as he'd never played in the outfield in the Majors or Minors and was a career .220/.292/.313 hitter in parts of four seasons with the Giants.

But Adrianza has been a better hitter than expected, thanks to some mechanical changes such as the addition of a leg kick early in the season, and he's filled in capably in left field, getting playing time over Max Kepler against left-handed starters.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins use 2 big frames to build on WC lead

Twins use 2 big frames to build on WC lead

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins erased an early five-run deficit with a pair of huge innings to power past the Blue Jays, 13-7, on Sunday at Target Field. With the win, Minnesota split the four-game set and increased its lead over the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot to two games.

Minnesota batted around in both the second and fifth innings, pouring in seven and six runs in each frame, respectively. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton hit back-to-back homers in the second, while Buxton added an RBI double later in the inning. Rosario went deep again in the fifth after a grand slam by Joe Mauer. Both Buxton and Mauer finished a triple shy of the cycle.

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Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.

Brian Hall is a contributor to MLB.com based in Minnesota who covered the Blue Jays on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mauer's slam highlights Twins' 6-run 5th inning

Veteran first baseman matches season high with 5 RBIs in victory

Mauer's slam highlights Twins' 6-run 5th inning

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer took his teammates and manager by surprise when he turned on a pitch, in a big way, in the fifth inning Sunday.

Mauer's grand slam served as the signature blow in a six-run inning that wrapped up Minnesota's 13-7 win over the Blue Jays at Target Field. It was Mauer's fourth career grand slam and first since Sept. 1, 2012.

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Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins' Wild Card quest slowed by Blue Jays

Twins' Wild Card quest slowed by Blue Jays

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Donaldson clubbed a pair of homers to back a gem by Marco Estrada, as the Blue Jays pushed past the Twins, 7-2, on Saturday night at Target Field. Minnesota has lost back-to-back games to Toronto and dropped its lead for the second American League Wild Card spot to one game over the Angels, who beat the Rangers.

Estrada allowed two runs over a season-high eight innings, giving up three hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Eddie Rosario recorded the first hit off Estrada with a leadoff home run in the fifth, while Eduardo Escobar crushed solo shot in the eighth. The Twins have homered in 15 straight games, which is one shy of the club's longest streak.

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Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.

Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Blue Jays on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.