Coming off a big offensive effort against the AL Central leaders, the Tigers try for a second straight victory to take their home series with the Twins on Thursday.
After being held to five hits in a 2-0 loss to Minnesota (14-7) in Tuesday’s opener, Detroit rallied to even the set with an 11-6 win Wednesday.
The Tigers (12-10) have alternated wins and losses over their last six games since winning two in a row April 21-22.
“We’ve had a few comebacks, and that’s been pretty important for us,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But we can’t keep expecting to do this.”
Thankfully for Leyland’s club, they were able to tag Minnesota’s Scott Baker(notes) for five runs in four innings Wednesday. The Tigers hope to get the best of Twins’ scheduled starter Carl Pavano(notes) in this contest.
Pavano (3-1, 4.24 ERA) allowed two runs, four hits and didn’t walk a batter over seven innings of an 8-3 win at Kansas City on Friday. It was a far better outing than his previous effort when he gave up seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 10-5 home loss to the Royals on April 18.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in six career starts against the Tigers, but allowed seven runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss in his last trip to Detroit on Sept. 30.
A .328 lifetime hitter against the Twins and one hit shy of 2,000 for his career, Ordonez is 6 for 14 with two doubles against Pavano.
Willis, who missed his last scheduled start Saturday at Texas because of the flu, allowed two runs and walked three in an inning of relief in an 8-4 loss to the Rangers on Sunday.
In his last start on April 19, Willis allowed two runs in six innings of a 2-0 loss at Los Angeles. The left-hander has one win in 19 appearances since joining the Tigers in 2008.
Willis gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 14-10, 13-inning loss at Minnesota in his only start against the Twins on May 13.
“This is a tough one, because when it was 6-1, it looked like we had the game under control,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected for arguing a call.
Though Thome is 11 for 32 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games against the Tigers, star Justin Morneau(notes) is expected to be out of the Twins’ lineup for a second straight game with a stiff back.