The Twins and Tigers continue a three-game series on Saturday, as Minnesota tries to cut into its deficit in the AL Central.
Following a 5-9 road trip, the Twins (78-63) returned home and opened this six-game homestand with a 10-2 win over the Tigers (67-74) on Friday. Justin Morneau hit his fourth career grand slam and Francisco Liriano allowed two runs over seven innings to help snap the team’s three-game losing streak.
“Nice way to come home,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins improved to 47-23 at home, including 20-5 since July 1. They are also 6-1 at home against the Tigers, whom they’ve outscored 49-19.
Minnesota is 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and 5 1/2 games behind Boston for the wild card.
The Twins are hoping the return home will help turn around a struggling bullpen, which went 1-6 with a 5.50 ERA and five blown saves in eight opportunities during the road trip. Minnesota didn’t need to worry much about the status of the relief staff on Friday thanks to Liriano’s solid outing.
“Just want to go out there and make some good pitches and help the team get some wins,” Liriano said.
Detroit has lost nine of its last 12, meanwhile. Its pitching staff has a 6.73 ERA in the last 12 games, with the starters going 1-7 with a 7.46 ERA.
“We walked too many guys and we struck out too many times. That pretty much sums it up,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Leyland hands the ball to Justin Verlander (10-15, 4.74 ERA) as he tries to avoid losing his third straight start. The right-hander is 2-6 with a 7.29 ERA in his last eight starts. On Monday against the New York Yankees, he lasted only 1 2-3 innings, allowing eight runs—five earned—and seven hits in a 13-9 loss.
“The bad pitches I threw got hit and the good ones got hit as well,” Verlander said. “It’s one of those days you’ve got to get behind you.”
Verlander is 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts against the Twins. He is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against them this season.
Scott Baker (8-4, 3.66) counters for Minnesota. He allowed one run and six hits over six innings of a 12-4 win over Oakland on Sunday, his first victory since July 26.
Baker is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 starts against the Tigers, including 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts this season.