DETROIT — — Max Kepler had three hits and drove in three runs to help the Minnesota Twins to an 8-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Kepler is hitting .320 with four homers and 12 RBI in 25 at-bats against Detroit this season.

Minnesota’s Devin Smeltzer (2-0) picked up the win, giving up two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

“Today’s the best I’ve felt,” Smeltzer said. “My fastball velocity and fastball command is the best it has been, I was able to move the ball up and down and my changeup was good.”

Tigers starter Rony Garcia (0-1) took the loss, allowing six runs and seven hits in five innings.

“We didn’t do a good job of controlling the top half of their lineup, and they did a pretty good job of controlling the top half of our lineup,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “When that happens, it is an uphill battle.”

Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run double by Trevor Larnach, and the Twins added four more runs in the third.

Byron Buxton led off with a single — his first hit in 24 at-bats against Detroit this season — and scored on Kepler’s double.

Jorge Polanco singled, and with one out Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer to left for his sixth homer of the season.

Miguel Cabrera singled — career hit No. 3,030 — and scored in the fourth to make it 6-1, but Kepler added a two-run single in the seventh.

Daz Cameron ended Smeltzer’s day with an RBI double in the seventh.

“The good thing about Devin is that he throws strikes,” Sanchez said. “All his pitches were working today and he attacks the hitters. That plan works for us.”

Tigers rookie Spencer Torkelson went 3-for-4 in the first game, his second straight three-hit game.

“I’m seeing the ball a lot better right now, and I’m definitely getting my good swing off in more at-bats,” said Torkelson, who raised his batting average from .176 to .211. “This game can knock you down fast, but sameness is greatness. Stay the course and results are going to happen.”


Twins: Shortstop Carlos Correa was placed on the COVID-19 list and replaced by infielder Jermaine Palacios, who made his major-league debut in the first game. Kepler returned after missing Monday’s game with a sore quadriceps. … Sonny Gray (shoulder) played long-toss catch and is scheduled to do the same Wednesday.

Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera played after sitting out two games with back stiffness.


The Tigers optioned reliever Drew Carlton, who threw three innings in the first game, to Triple-A Toledo and activated Will Vest from the COVID-19 list.


Sanchez, who has homered in the first two games of the series, has gone deep before in Detroit. On Aug. 22, 2017, he became the only player to clear the left-field seats with a homer since Comerica Park opened in 2000. The home run was estimated at 493 feet, breaking the previous stadium record by nearly 30 feet.

“I didn’t even know that record, but it is impressive,” he said. “Every park is different, and I don’t look to do anything better in this park than in any other.”


The teams finish the doubleheader with a night game. Detroit’s Joey Wentz (0-1, 20.35) will make his second career start, while Minnesota’s Cole Sands (0-0, 6.75) will start for the first time after two relief appearances. Both pitchers are serving as their team’s 27th player for the doubleheader. Tigers utilityman Kody Clemens is expected to make his major-league debut in the second game.


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