Tigers to give it their all in finale with Twins

(SportsNetwork.com) - So it all boils down to Game 162 of the regular season for the Detroit Tigers and their draining pursuit of an American League Central crown.

All the Tigers have to do is win Sunday versus the Minnesota Twins in the finale of a four-game series at Comerica Park. They are one game ahead of the Kansas City Royals for the AL Central lead, and the Royals will close out their series with the Chicago White Sox this afternoon.

A one-game tiebreaker is on tap Monday if needed.

Tasked with pitching the Tigers to a division title will be David Price. He is 3-4 with a 3.97 earned run average in 10 outings with the club since coming over via trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Price is just 2-4 in his past six decisions and did not factor in the outcome of a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, when he yielded three runs in 8 2/3 frames. Price has allowed 14 runs in his last four starts.

The left-hander has faced the Twins 10 times (9 starts) in his career and is 4-3 with a 2.84 ERA. Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, is 2-1 in three meetings with Minnesota this season.

The playoff-bound Tigers have lost two in a row after winning three straight, and were hammered again by the Twins in Saturday's 12-3 decision. Minnesota recorded an 11-4 victory Friday, then kept it going in the third test of this set by rattling Detroit starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein.

Lobstein gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings to suffer the loss and Nick Castellanos homered to go along with three RBI.

"It's frustrating for sure," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of his club's second straight lopsided loss. "You're in such a deep hole it's hard to climb out."

Ausmus and the Tigers just need to win Sunday, but the Twins are out to play spoiler before they pack up for the winter.

Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run single in his second at-bat during a six-run fifth inning and also clubbed a three-run homer. Escobar finished 4-for-5 with six runs batted in, Chris Herrmann had three hits and an RBI and starter Ricky Nolasco tossed six innings of two-run ball for the victory.

"It's always nice to play the spoiler," Nolasco said, "but we don't play this game to be the spoiler. We play this game to be in their position. Their backs are against the wall, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Brian Dozier added a solo homer for the Twins, who hit 70 wins (70-91) for the first time since 2010, the last time they reached the postseason.

Minnesota will hand pitching duties to Kyle Gibson Sunday and the right-hander has a 13-11 record to go along with a 4.50 earned run average. Gibson is aiming for his third straight win and made it two in a row with seven innings of one-run ball in a 6-3 victory over Arizona on Tuesday.

Gibson, who allowed 15 runs in his previous three starts, is 7-7 in 17 road appearances this season and 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers. In an 8-4 win over Detroit on Sept. 17, Gibson posted the triumph even though he permitted four runs and seven hits in six innings.

He will try to shake up Detroit's title hopes this afternoon.

Minnesota is 10-8 against the Tigers this season.