Minnesota has managed to stay in the AL Central race in part by dominating its season series with the Detroit Tigers. The Twins’ fortunes, however, can change in a hurry at Comerica Park.
Though they’ve struggled against the Twins, the Tigers have every reason to be confident as they open a three-game series at home Friday night.
Minnesota (53-55) has lost five of six entering this series, but is 6-2 against Detroit (57-50) this year and hopes to gain ground on the division leaders. The Twins trail the Tigers by 4 1/2 games.
“They’re all important when you’re chasing,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s in our division and on the road. You don’t want to get too far behind or too far under .500.”
On the road is where the Twins could very well run into trouble. Detroit improved to 34-17 at Comerica with a 7-3 win over Baltimore on Thursday and is a major league-best 19-6 at home since June 6.
“I’ve been asked about that 1,000 times and I still don’t have an explanation,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of his team’s success at home. “The teams in baseball that are fighting for something have to win on the road.”
Galarraga has lost his last three decisions since beating Oakland on June 30. He surrendered a career-high eight runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings of Detroit’s 11-1 loss to Cleveland on Sunday.
The right-hander hasn’t fared very well in six starts against the Twins, either, going 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA.
Minnesota will counter with Anthony Swarzak(notes) (3-4, 4.25), who lasted three innings in suffering a loss against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, giving up six runs and nine hits as Minnesota was defeated 11-6.
The rookie right-hander allowed two runs or fewer in three of his previous four outings. He’s been outstanding in four road starts, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA.
This will be Swarzak’s first appearance against the Tigers. He’ll be facing a Detroit lineup that is coming of a productive effort.
Third baseman Brandon Inge(notes) connected for a two-run homer and catcher Alex Avila(notes) hit a two-out RBI double in his major league debut. Avila, the son of Detroit’s assistant general manager Al Avila, was called up from Double-A Erie on Wednesday.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has scored one run in each of its last two games, including a 2-1 loss to Cleveland on Thursday. The Twins went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position in that contest, losing their second straight series following a four-game winning streak.
Orlando Cabrera(notes), though, was a bright spot for Minnesota, extending his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a pair of singles. The veteran shortstop is 10 for 20 since being acquired from Oakland on Friday.