MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Leyland continues to emphasize that starting pitching is the main ingredient in winning games. Detroit's performance this week in Minnesota certainly supported that belief.
Anibal Sanchez turned in a shaky performance on Monday, and the Tigers lost. Then Doug Fister's stellar outing on Tuesday led to Detroit evening the series.
On Wednesday, Max Scherzer polished the three-game set off with an even better showing, and yes, the Tigers captured a 5-1 win at Target Field to take the series from the Twins.
It was the Tigers' 25th win in their last 34 games against Minnesota, including 13 of 16 at Target Field.
Early on, Scherzer didn't appear to be in for a smooth day, though it ended with him yielding just four hits and two walks over seven shutout innings. He created his own trouble in the second by issuing leadoff walks to Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit on only nine pitches.
Scherzer called that the game's turning point.
"I was extremely frustrated with myself," he said. "I hate walking guys. I just hate it. Especially when you give free passes. Especially when it's no one out. You just can't give hitters credit and be afraid of them. You have to be aggressive at them. It took two walks for me to get mad at myself so I would get back aggressive with them."
Did he ever.
Scherzer needed 27 pitches to get through the second inning, but he did so by striking out the next three batters he faced. He finished with 10 strikeouts, marking the 10th time this season he's fanned nine or more.
Scherzer's has now won 11 of his last 14 decisions going back to May 10.
"Once I fired myself up and put the adrenaline in and started letting the fastball eat, that's when I got back in the zone and was able to collect some big strikeouts in that situation," Scherzer said. "From then on, I was able to stay in the zone."
Miguel Cabrera backed the right-hander's effort with two RBIs, including a solo home run in the first inning for his 30th of the season. The opposite-field shot to the corner made him the first Tigers player to hit 30 or more homers in five consecutive seasons.
"I'm not surprised at anything he does," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's probably going to do that for quite a while yet, if he keeps his health. He's just a superstar. He's a terrific player."
Cabrera was a day removed from becoming the third Tiger to collect 100 or more RBIs in five straight years. But the 29-year-old wasn't quite ready to assess his accomplishments yet, saying he'd save those conversations for when his career is over.
"That's so great. But it's about winning," Cabrera said. "It's not about one person. I'm more excited because we won today."
Cabrera also tagged an RBI single in the fifth, finishing the series 6-for-14 with five runs driven in.
No opposing manager may be more aware of what Cabrera is capable of than the Twins' Ron Gardenhire. Cabrera has hit .411 at Target Field in the ballpark's short history, with five home runs. His 37 hits at Target Field are more than any other opposing player.
"He's just an animal," Gardenhire said. "I think he's the best hitter in our league as far as power, the whole package, driving in runs, a producer. I've said that for a few years. He's so dangerous. Just to watch him, he hit that [home run] ball like a left-hander hits it. The wind was blowing in from there. He's just so strong. He just seemed like he flicked it. He's a really good baseball player."
Delmon Young added a two-run homer against Minnesota starter Cole De Vries in the fourth. It was his fourth against his former team since being traded and exactly one year removed from the first. Omar Infante drove in another run in the eighth with a single after Jhonny Peralta started the inning with a ground-rule double.
Joe Mauer's single against Octavio Dotel in the eighth drove in Ben Revere for Minnesota's lone run. Revere had reached on a one-out triple.
Morneau led off the seventh with a double, but Scherzer retired the next three batters to stymie the other Minnesota threat.
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.