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Despite Dozier's record breaking days, Twins again guaranteed last place

Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco (11) makes a play on a ball hit by Detroit Tigers center fielder Cameron Maybin (not pictured) in the seventh inning at Comerica Park. Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT -- Tired of seeing Brian Dozier beat them on fastballs, the Detroit Tigers decided to switch things up and throw him a first-pitch curveball.

Dozier deposited that in the left-field seats as well to start the fourth inning of Wednesday’s 9-6 loss at Comerica Park. That gave the Twins’ second baseman 41 homers, one behind the major league lead of Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo, who had homered minutes earlier at Camden Yards.

With their 12th loss in 15 tries against the Tigers, the Twins clinched their fourth last-place finish in the American League Central over the past six seasons.

Dozier’s blast jarred veteran right-hander Anibal Sanchez from the coziness of three perfect innings and sent the Twins on to a five-run inning that included a three-run homer by Kurt Suzuki. However, the Tigers roared back to tie the game on Miguel Cabrera’s two-out single in the fourth and went ahead for good on Cabrera’s 33rd homer in the seventh.

That came off reliever Ryan Pressly (6-7), making his league-leading 69th appearance.

With 99 runs, Dozier is on the verge of joining Chuck Knoblauch (1995-97) as the only Twins to score 100 runs in three straight seasons.

In the fifth, Dozier added a double for his 96th run batted in and his 81st extra-base hit. That’s three shy of Tony Oliva’s extra-base hit record for the Twins, set in 1964.

The RBI total is the highest by a Twins hitter since Josh Willingham drove in 110 runs in 2012, Dozier’s rookie year. Trevor Plouffe’s 86-RBI season in 2015 had been the highest total since.

Dozier’s career-best hitting streak has reached 18 games.

Subtracting the two homers Dozier hit as a designated hitter on July 31 against the Chicago White Sox, Dozier has tied Alfonso Soriano’s 14-year-old record for most homers as an American League second baseman. Just three men have ever hit more homers in a season as a second baseman: Davey Johnson (1973) and Rogers Hornsby (1922) each hit 42, while Ryne Sandberg went deep 40 times for the 1990 Chicago Cubs.

Hornsby also had 39 homers at second base for the 1925 St. Louis Cardinals (player-manager) and 1929 Chicago Cubs.

Right-hander Tyler Duffey couldn’t hold a 5-2 lead and saw his earned-run average climb again to 6.39. Of the 154 big-league pitchers with at least 80 innings this season, only Shelby Miller (7.12) of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a higher ERA.

Sanchez gave up six earned runs as well in his four-plus innings, pushing his ERA to 5.90. That’s sixth-worst in the majors.

Suzuki took another foul off his catcher’s mask in the eighth inning, re-opening a gash on his chin and forcing him to leave the game.

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