Tigers-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

It's a new season, but the Detroit Tigers' dominance in Minneapolis continues.

The reigning AL champs will try to keep that going on Wednesday when Anibal Sanchez goes for his first victory at Target Field.

Back to work after getting swept by San Francisco in the World Series, the Tigers, behind ace Justin Verlander, opened the season on Monday with a 4-2 victory. Detroit's closer-by-committee approached worked for one night as Al Albuquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke combined to get the final eight outs while giving up just one total hit.

"That's what we're going to have to do, and today it worked out pretty good," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website.

It's worked out extremely well for Detroit at Target Field, where it has won 16 of 20 by a combined 117-81.

Sanchez, though, is 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA in two starts in Minneapolis, both coming in 2012 after the mid-season deal that brought him and Omar Infante from Miami.

The right-hander went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 regular-season starts after the deal, then went 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA three postseason starts. The Tigers were shut out in both of those defeats.

That strong playoff showing led to Sanchez signing a five-year, $80 million deal in December.

"It's definitely big for us to know Sanchez is coming back,'' catcher Alex Avila said.

Sanchez, though, had a rough spring, posting a 7.31 ERA in four games. In his second start back following his time with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, the right-hander was tagged for nine earned runs and 11 hits in Thursday's 11-4 loss to Houston.

The Twins are hoping they can get to Sanchez like that after striking out 12 times and leaving 12 runners on base in the season opener.

"Our pitching kept us in there," third baseman Trevor Plouffe told the Twins' official website. "But it's all about getting those timely hits, and we didn't do that today. But I like where we're at."

It's uncertain where manager Ron Gardenhire will have catcher Joe Mauer in the lineup after he moved the three-time batting champ to the second spot on Monday. Mauer, the usual No. 3 hitter, went 2 for 4 with a double.

"I told Gardy that I don't have a problem wherever he puts me in the lineup, as long as I'm in the lineup," he said.

There's a good chance that will happen on Wednesday as Mauer is 4 for 5 off Sanchez.

The Twins will give the ball to veteran Kevin Correia for the first time. The right-hander, who signed a two-year deal in December, will make his AL debut after going 12-11 in each of the last two seasons with Pittsburgh.

More important from the Twins' perspective is that Correia has made 26 or more starts in each of the last four seasons. Minnesota had nine pitchers make 11 or more starts in 2012 when its rotation had the second-worst ERA in baseball at 5.40.

"When you start cracking his numbers, they're very respectable," general manager Terry Ryan said.

Prince Fielder is 5 for 25 with a homer lifetime against Correia, but reigning AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is 9 for 19 with two doubles and one homer.

Former Twin Torii Hunter was 2 for 5 with a double in his Tigers debut after going hitless in his previous 12 at-bats at Target Field.

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