MINNEAPOLIS -- With runners on the corners and one out, Minnesota clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the sixth, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier started perhaps the biggest footnote of a double play the Twins will have all season.
Dozier, shortstop Eduardo Escobar and first baseman Joe Mauer preserved the lead, and then Minnesota exploded for nine runs in the bottom half of the inning, going on to a 20-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Target Field on Friday night.
The loss for Detroit, combined with Kansas City's 6-3 win at Texas, moved the Tigers to a season-high 2 1/2 games behind the Royals for first place in the American League Central Division standings.
But right now, the Tigers have more immediate concerns.
Detroit cycled through eight pitchers -- including infielder Andrew Romine in the ninth -- in a game that lasted one minute short of four hours, ahead of a doubleheader between the teams on Saturday and a day game Sunday.
"It's hard to imagine that at one point in that game, I was trying to decide, do I want to face (Miguel) Cabrera or (Victor) Martinez in the biggest at-bat of the night," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "I don't even know how to describe that one."
Dozier's double play was no gimme.
After watching a 6-1 lead dwindle to only 6-5 and the tying run 90 feet away, Gardenhire intentionally walked Cabrera and took his chance with Martinez, the designated hitter.
Good call, skip.
After Martinez hit one toward the hole between first and second, Dozier raced to the ball, fired back to Escobar at second, who rifled to Mauer, who made the catch a split second before Martinez's foot hit the bag for a huge double play.
One miscue and the game would have been tied, and the outcome possibly quite different.
"The biggest play of the game," Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "That was big for us."
In the bottom of the sixth, 14 batters came to the plate and eight different Twins scored at least one run as the team equaled its biggest one-inning output of the season.
But the fireworks display wasn't over.
Minnesota scored twice more in the seventh and hit back-to-back homers off Romine in the eighth to reach 20 runs for the first time since May 21, 2009.
"There's not really much to say, the scoreboard speaks for itself," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "We got our butts kicked. This was a bad game, an embarrassing game really. There's really not much to say about it, it is what it is."
Tigers lefty Robbie Ray (1-4) took the loss, allowing the first six runs on six hits over only 35 pitches and 1 1/3 innings.
"In that second inning, when runners got on base, I kind of lost a little command," Ray said. "That's where it all went down. It seems like they were on every pitch I was throwing."
Minnesota left-hander Tommy Milone got the start but did not last long enough for the win, getting the hook in the midst of Detroit's four-run rally in the fifth inning. Milone, making his third start as a Twin since being traded from Oakland on July 31, gave up five runs -- three earned -- on 10 hits.
Escobar had a career-high five hits, but failed in three chances to get a double to complete his first career cycle. Escobar has 32 two-base hits this season -- tied for seventh-most in the American League -- but could not come up with one Friday.
"I'll work on it for next time," Escobar said with a smile.
"He's got 32 doubles and he couldn't get one tonight?" Gardenhire asked rhetorically. "There you have it. That fits."
Plouffe and center fielder Danny Santana each had three-hit nights as Santana knocked in a team-high four runs.
Escobar, Plouffe, Santana and right fielder Oswaldo Arcia all had homers. Catcher Kurt Suzuki went 0-for-6 and was the only Minnesota starter to not get at least one hit.
Right-hander Ryan Pressly pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief and got the win, improving to 2-0.