In their first game since being swept by a fellow AL contender, the Minnesota Twins appeared more than ready to put that ugly series behind them.
The Twins look to get back on a roll when they continue a four-game set with the Detroit Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park.
Minnesota (51-41) stumbled into Detroit after losing three games in Boston, a sweep capped by an 18-5 pounding in Wednesday’s finale. The Twins came to Fenway Park having won 15 of 17.
Minnesota’s relievers had a particularly rough series, going 0-2 with a 25.50 ERA.
“Overall, I don’t think it’s been bad,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ Web site about his bullpen, which saw its ERA rise from 3.42 to 3.79 after the losses to the Red Sox. “We just had some really bad blowups.”
The bullpen bounced back Thursday in Minnesota’s 7-6, 11-inning victory over the Tigers. Starter Kevin Slowey was knocked out after giving up six runs in 3 2-3 innings, but relievers Craig Breslow, Jesse Crain, Dennys Reyes, Joe Nathan and Matt Guerrier allowed four hits the rest of the way.
Justin Morneau powered the Twins offensively with five hits, including a go-ahead home run in the 11th as the Twins capped a rally from a 6-2 deficit.
“This was a good win for us after three tough losses in Boston,” Gardenhire said. “Even when we fell behind, we kept making good swings.”
Morneau’s five-hit game, which included two doubles, matched a career high set in 2006 against Boston. The first baseman is hitting .420 (21-for-50) with six doubles and two home runs versus Detroit this year, helping the Twins to an 8-4 advantage in the season series.
The Tigers (46-45) had their three-game win streak snapped and fell to 13-22 against the AL Central, but they’re 22-9 since June 7. Detroit is 4 1/2 games behind the second-place Twins.
Both teams had missed opportunities Thursday. Minnesota will be looking to improve upon a 1-for-15 performance with runners in scoring position, while Detroit wasn’t much better at 3-for-13. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who came in hitting .478 (11-for-23) with five homers over his last five games, went 0-for-4 on the day.
The Twins try to continue their push for the top spot in the Central when they hand the ball to Glen Perkins (5-2, 4.27 ERA), who’s looking to win his fourth straight decision. Perkins pitched seven innings against Cleveland on Sunday, allowing three runs and seven hits to earn a 4-3 victory.
The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances against the Tigers. He’s 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in the two starts, both of which came this season.
Detroit counters with Armando Galarraga (7-2, 3.27), who’s won his last four decisions, although he hasn’t received one in his last three starts. Galarraga, the Tigers’ leader in victories, gave up one run and five hits in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Seattle on Saturday.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance against the Twins. All three starts have come this season.
The Twins have won three straight over the Tigers.