A milestone victory from their ace has the Detroit Tigers in position to continue their recent success at Target Field.
The AL Central-leading Tigers look to complete a three-game sweep Sunday with a ninth victory in their last 10 games in Minnesota, where the Twins hope to avoid an eighth straight loss overall.
Justin Verlander(notes) grinded his way through six innings to become the majors’ first 20-game winner Saturday in Detroit’s 6-4 victory. Winners in three straight and eight of nine overall, the Tigers (73-59) have outscored the Twins 63-33 while also winning eight of nine at Target Field - including the last three.
Minnesota (55-77), meanwhile, has dropped seven in a row on a 1-9 homestand that mercifully ends Sunday. The Twins have lost 15 of 18 to the Tigers overall.
Cabrera and All-Star Alex Avila(notes) each homered Saturday while former Twin Delmon Young(notes) gave the Tigers the lead for good with an RBI single in the seventh. Since he was acquired by Detroit in a waiver deal with Minnesota on Aug. 15, Young is 9 for 22 with a homer and six RBIs in five games against the Twins.
“It’s just another day at work,” said Young, batting .308 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 12 games with Detroit. “I’m looking to help the club win the series.”
Avila has hit .436 (17 for 39) with four home runs and eight RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak, and is 9 for 19 in his last five versus Minnesota.
Penny is 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA in his last three starts overall, but 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in three versus Minnesota this season. He allowed three runs on two homers in six-plus innings and did not factor in the decision of a 6-5 loss to the Twins on Aug. 17.
He may have a better chance to win against Brian Duensing(notes) (8-13, 5.12), who is 0-5 with a 8.65 ERA this month. The left-hander matched a season high by giving up seven runs - the fourth time he’s done so - in two-plus innings of an 8-1 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.
“I’m just kind of wrong right now,” said Duensing, who has allowed 13 runs and 19 hits in seven innings in his last two outings. “I don’t feel like I have in the last couple of years.”
Duensing apparently has not felt right while giving up 15 runs and 21 hits in 11 1-3 innings over three appearances - two starts - versus Detroit in 2011. He lost at Target Field on July 22 when he yielded seven runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-2 defeat.
It’s possible Duensing won’t have Joe Mauer(notes) or Michael Cuddyer(notes) on the field with him Sunday. Mauer could miss a fourth straight game with a stiff neck while Cuddyer hopes to avoid missing his second in a row with a sore wrist.
“There’s a lot of positives we can take from (Saturday) into (Sunday),” said Hughes, 4 for 12 with five RBIs in four games versus Detroit this season.