After a frustrating road trip that included three one-run losses, the Minnesota Twins open a nine-game homestand hoping to increase their AL Central lead.
Owners of the AL’s second-best home record, the Twins begin a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Minnesota (75-56) resumes play following a 3-4 swing. That began with three losses to AL West-leading Texas prior to winning the finale Thursday, then the Twins took the first two games from last-place Seattle before a 2-1 loss Sunday.
Minnesota led 1-0 in the seventh before the Mariners came back in the bottom of the frame thanks to a wild pitch, misplayed fly ball and fielder’s choice that should have been an inning-ending double play.
“This is the end of 13 days in a row (of playing) with a lot of travel, late-night travel,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think guys are worn down right now.”
The loss came with a chance for Minnesota to increase its lead over second-place Chicago in the AL Central.
A lengthy homestand, however, provides the Twins with a good opportunity to pull away from the White Sox before they meet for the final time Sept. 14-16 in Chicago. At 40-22, Minnesota trails only the New York Yankees for the AL’s best home record, and has posted five shutouts while winning 11 of the last 13 at Target Field.
Duensing suffered his first loss as a starter after giving up four runs in six innings of a 4-3 defeat at Texas on Wednesday. The left-hander had been 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts since joining the rotation in July.
Duensing, who is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two home starts, has faced the Tigers (65-66) five times as a reliever this season, pitching 4 1-3 scoreless innings. He was 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts against them as a rookie last year.
Detroit comes in having won seven of 10 including a 10-4 victory over Toronto on Sunday to split the four-game set. The Tigers have hit .311 while outscoring their opponents 66-24 over the last 10 games.
Ryan Raburn(notes) homered twice and drove in four Sunday. After entering August batting .211, Raburn has boosted his average 43 points while hitting .394 (13 for 33) with 10 RBIs over the last nine games.
“That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said. “I’m a real streaky guy anyway. Once I get in a hot span, it seems to click for several weeks.”
However, Raburn has hit .143 (3 for 21) against the Twins this season, and is 2 for 12 in four games in Minneapolis.
Armando Galarraga(notes) (4-5, 4.04) has pitched well lately as he tries again for his first win in Minnesota. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.16 ERA in five starts including June 29, when he allowed six runs in four innings of an 11-4 defeat.
However, he’s 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last two starts overall. Galarraga gave up a run over 6 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 4-3 loss in 12 to Kansas City.