Minnesota goes for its second straight win against the AL Central’s top team when it meets the Detroit Tigers in the third of a key four-game series on Saturday at the Metrodome.
The Twins (81-59) moved within four games of the Tigers (86-56) with a 9-5 victory on Friday. Morneau—who had driven in only five runs in his last 13 games—knocked in three with a single and a double, and also scored twice.
Morneau ranks second in the AL with 118 RBIs, trailing only Boston’s David Ortiz (125).
Mauer had been stuck in a 6-for-37 tailspin and had not recorded a multihit game in his last 11 before tallying three hits with three runs on Friday.
His batting average has dropped from .392 on July 1, but still leads the AL at .348.
“You’ve got to be able to at least contain them,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Mauer and Morneau. “You’re not going to control them totally, but you’ve got to be able to control them a little bit. They showed tonight why they’re both great hitters.”
With the win, Minnesota also remained one-half game ahead of Chicago for the AL wild card. The White Sox defeated Cleveland 7-6 on Friday.
Magglio Ordonez had three hits and four RBIs to pace the Tigers, who twice squandered two-run leads.
“We had a little something going there but the kiss of death is we get two, we give up two,” Leyland said. “We get two more, we give up three. That usually spells a loss, and that’s what happened.”
Bonser won his first two career starts at the Metrodome, but has not pitched well there since. In his last four home starts, the right-hander has failed to get through the sixth inning, going 0-3 with a 5.75 ERA.
He’s pitched well in his last two starts on the road, though, giving up three runs and 12 hits over 13 innings in victories over Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
“My last couple of starts have been great, and I’d like to keep progressing,” said Bonser, a St, Petersburg, Fla., native who allowed a run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings Monday in a 2-1 win over the Devil Rays.
Bonser is making his first career start against Detroit.
Nate Robertson (12-11, 3.93) can set a new single-season career high for wins when he starts for Detroit. The left-hander also recorded 12 wins in 2004, when the Tigers finished fourth in the AL Central with a 72-90 record.
Robertson ended a three-start losing streak his last time out, allowing a run and eight hits over seven innings Monday in a 6-2 win over Seattle.
“It’s huge,” said Robertson, who received one run of support during his skid. “A team scores for you early, it’s obviously going to help you relax a little bit.
“Obviously, me giving up the run in the first and them coming back and getting two for me like that, all I’m saying is it gives you a little bit of encouragement.”
The Tigers have given Robertson 24 runs of support in four starts against Minnesota this season, in which he’s gone 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA.
He’s 5-6 lifetime with a 4.69 ERA and has gotten an average of 6.13 runs of support in 13 starts versus the Twins.