With the season winding down, the Detroit Tigers will only see two teams the rest of the way.
Fortunately for them, one of them is the Minnesota Twins.
The Tigers try for a fifth win in six games in this series as they open a three-game set against the visiting Twins on Friday night.
Detroit (79-70) scored a combined 18 runs in kicking off its 10-game homestand with back-to-back wins over Oakland before falling 12-4 on Thursday. Anibal Sanchez was knocked around while the offense failed to get much going despite collecting 11 hits.
"We missed a couple opportunities," manager Jim Leyland said. "... We had some chances."
The second-place Tigers, who are two games behind AL Central-leading Chicago, surely like their chances of catching the White Sox given their favorable remaining schedule. Detroit plays six of its final 13 games against Minnesota (62-88) and the other seven versus sub-.500 Kansas City.
The Tigers have hit .311, including a .347 mark with runners in scoring position, in taking seven of 10 from the Twins.
Tied with Cleveland for the AL's worst record, Minnesota posted back-to-back road victories over the Indians before losing 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday. Trevor Plouffe hit his 23rd homer for the Twins, who went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"Bummer," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "This was a bummer of a day at the end there."
The Twins will now face Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.57 ERA), who is looking to put his recent woes behind him. The right-hander had dropped a career-worst six consecutive starts before not receiving a decision Sunday in a 7-6 loss at Cleveland.
He labored through 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs - two earned - and eight hits while walking three.
"It's frustrating, especially at this time of year," he told the Tigers' official website. "These are high-intensity games as far as how much they mean. We're right there in this race."
While Porcello is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA over seven career home starts in this series, he was anything but sharp in a 7-3 victory over Minnesota on July 5, surrendering three runs and a career worst-tying 12 hits over 3 2-3 innings.
Porcello will need to be wary of Joe Mauer, who is batting .426 with two homers and 13 RBIs in his last 15 games.
Minnesota will give the ball to Samuel Deduno (6-4, 3.84), who hasn't been able to find the strike zone with any consistency. Since debuting July 7, the right-hander has walked a major league-worst 48 over 13 starts spanning 75 innings.
Deduno threw just 40 of his 86 pitches for strikes Saturday in a 5-3 loss to the White Sox, giving up four runs and five walks over four innings.
"I have to be the same way when I'm doing bad," he said. "I tried to do too much and tried to be perfect, and nothing was working."
While Deduno also issued five walks Aug. 13 against Detroit, he managed to limit the damage, yielding three runs and five hits while pitching into the eighth inning for the first time in his career to win 9-3.
Deduno could have his hands full with Miguel Cabrera. The MVP candidate, batting .415 with six homers and 14 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak, is hitting .486 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in his last nine meetings with the Twins.
- Rick Porcello