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Tigers' slim playoff hopes take a hit

Tigers' slim playoff hopes take a hit

DETROIT -- Nate Robertson and manager Jim Leyland spent the majority of their respective postgame interviews on Monday talking about another hard-luck loss.

The Tigers have lost 19 of Robertson's 29 starts this season, although, in his defense, Detroit has scored an average of three runs per game in those losses.

"Sometimes that's the way it works out in a particular year," Leyland said of the lack of support for Robertson. "Once in a while there's a guy that happens to. But we certainly didn't give him any support tonight, that's for sure."

Monday's game against the Twins at Comerica Park brought the absolute minimal run support. Minnesota starter Carlos Silva and two relievers combined to shut out the Tigers for the third time this season in a 2-0 Tigers loss that has Detroit down to its absolutely, positively last shot at the postseason.

A Yankees win or a Tigers loss on Tuesday officially would eliminate the Tigers from postseason contention.

"I know we're not mathematically eliminated," Robertson said, "but these games still mean something.

"Unfortunately, it's going to take a miracle for us to be able to get in."

Robertson gave the Tigers a shot to continue their faint playoff hopes, allowing just three singles over seven innings. But a leadoff walk to Michael Cuddyer and an RBI single by Nick Punto in the second produced the only run the Twins would need.

"Nate pitched well," Sean Casey said. "We just weren't able to get any runs."

Same story for most of his starts this year.

Yes, Robertson has received 5.2 runs of support in his 29 starts this season, above the league average, but he admitted he has felt a bit jinxed in each of his losses.

"I don't know how to explain it," said Robertson, who struck out six and allowed one run over seven innings. "You just gotta stay sane and keep on rolling."

Twins starter Carlos Silva shut down the Tigers. He allowed just one extra-base hit, a Magglio Ordonez double in the fourth inning.

"He had a good sinker, and when you try to get that, he goes to the cutter -- and that's a new pitch from him," said designated hitter Gary Sheffield, who went 0-for-4 Monday and is 8-for-60 in the last 18 games. "I've faced him for a long time, and he didn't have the cutter."

The Tigers advanced just one runner to third base against Silva, though it came on a costly double play in the sixth.

Casey and Curtis Granderson led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and Leyland called for a hit-and-run with Placido Polanco batting.

Polanco made contact, but he hit the ball right to second baseman Alexi Casilla. Casilla was able to start a 4-6-3 double play as Granderson had to dodge the ball and wasn't able to slide hard into shortstop Jason Bartlett.

"I was kind of a little surprised that Granderson didn't take the shortstop out, because it was on the hit-and-run and he should be there," Leyland said. "He may have gotten a little bit of a late break because, in fairness to him, you never want to get picked off there. It wasn't his fault, but normally in that situation you'd be on top of the guy. "

Sheffield flied out to end the inning.

"That was a huge play," Leyland said of the unsuccessful hit-and-run.

It was a bit of hard luck for Robertson and the Tigers, though it is nothing compared to what Detroit has put the Twins through over the second half of the season.

The Tigers had won seven straight games against the Twins -- all of them by two runs or fewer.

Ordonez and Carlos Guillen reached with two outs in the ninth against closer Joe Nathan, giving Ivan Rodriguez one last chance to continue the mastery of the Twins. However, Rodriguez grounded out to end the game.

"It would have been a shame for either [starter] to lose," Leyland said. "But it's more of a shame because one of those guys was a Tiger."

Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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