Neither Ervin Santana nor Randy Wolf will pitch in the postseason, but one has a chance to help his team get there while the other wants to prove he can still compete.
A suspension already withdrew Santana's eligibility for the playoffs, but he will continue his push to get the Minnesota Twins there anyway. The 39-year-old Wolf is simply chasing his first win with the Detroit Tigers in Sunday's series finale at Comerica Park.
Despite seven losses in its last 11, Minnesota (79-75) enters 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the AL's second wild card after splitting the first two of this series.
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The Twins let a 4-1 seventh-inning lead in the opener turn into a 6-4 loss, and while not calling Saturday's 6-2 victory a "must-win," manager Paul Monitor said his team can't give any more games away with eight left on the schedule.
"The days are dwindling, and the last thing we can afford is to give another one away," said Molitor, whose team is 7-11 versus Detroit this season.
Santana (6-4, 4.31 ERA) hasn't let much slip through his fingers this month, though his 80-game suspension earlier this season for the use of performance-enhancing drugs means he wouldn't reap the postseason reward.
The 11-year veteran is 4-0 in his last five with a 1.50 ERA, ranking toward the top of MLB in wins, ERA, strikeouts (39) and home runs per nine innings (0.25) since Aug. 30.
Santana - whose ERA rose to 6.05 on Aug. 25 - has one non-win during his hot stretch after surrendering two runs in seven innings of a 7-4, 12-inning loss to the Tigers on Sept. 16. Detroit rocked the right-hander for six runs in four innings July 10, though the Twins won 8-6. Santana had gone 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his prior eight against Detroit.
Victor Martinez has two home runs while hitting .357 in 28 at-bats against Santana, and Ian Kinsler has six doubles, a triple and a homer to go with a .323 average in 62 at-bats. Miguel Cabrera is 5 for 21 against Santana with a home run and five strikeouts.
Saturday's loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Detroit (72-82) and clinched its first losing season since 2008. Earlier in the day, general manager Al Avila announced that second-year manager Brad Ausmus would return for 2016.
"For the past two months, we've been evaluating every level of our baseball operations, and on Friday, I met with Brad and told him I wanted him to continue as manager of the Detroit Tigers," Avila said. "He and I are on the same page as to the future of this organization."
It's anyone's guess as to how much longer Wolf (0-4, 5.91) will be a part of it, but the veteran left-hander is focused on picking up the first win of his 16th season.
Wolf registered his third quality start in six outings Monday, but a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox denied him his first win since June 2, 2014, after he allowed three runs in seven innings.
Wolf failed to escape the fifth inning in his three previous starts, surrendering 20 hits and 14 runs over 11 innings. Opponents are batting .307 against him.
Torii Hunter has just five at-bats against Wolf - logging a single and a home run - despite their careers overlapping since the late-90s.