Twins-Blue Jays Preview

Although a lack of scoring has led to their recent slump, the Minnesota Twins have unsurprisingly found a way to break through offensively when Phil Hughes is pitching.

The right-hander looks to win a career-high seventh straight decision as the visiting Twins try to keep the surging Toronto Blue Jays from moving past them in the wild-card chase Tuesday night.

Minnesota (54-51) led the wild-card race July 17 before dropping 11 of 15 to fall into a virtual tie for the second wild-card spot. It's 8 1/2 games back in the AL Central.

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The Twins have scored six runs in the last four games overall and nine while dropping five of six on the road.

Torii Hunter hit a second-inning home run Monday but Minnesota managed three hits off David Price - who was making his debut for Toronto (55-52) - in a 5-1 loss.

"One solo home run is not going to do it," Hunter told MLB's official website. "Those guys know how to hit over there. Josh Donaldson is as hot as a firecracker."

Offense hasn't been a problem for the Twins whenever Hughes has taken the ball - just as it wasn't for the New York Yankees, his first team. The right-hander's run-support average of 5.65 is the sixth highest in baseball among active players since his debut April 26, 2007.

The Twins have given him 7.3 runs per game in his last eight starts, during which he's gone 6-0 with a 3.06 ERA to tie for the longest active winning streak in the majors.

Hughes (10-6, 4.11 ERA) particularly benefited from that perpetual offensive largesse Thursday when he gave up a season high-tying five runs and 10 hits - two home runs - over five innings of a 9-5 home win over Seattle.

After going 0-2 with a 9.18 ERA in his previous four starts at Toronto, Hughes didn't allow a run while striking out nine over seven innings of a 7-2 win at Rogers Centre last June 11. He's gone 6-7 with a 4.69 ERA against the Blue Jays in 29 appearances - his most versus any team.

Hughes has done a nice job against Donaldson, who is 2 for 11 with four strikeouts in the matchup. Donaldson hit a tiebreaking home run in the fifth inning Monday and is 10 for 25 with three home runs, four doubles and nine RBIs over his last six games.

The two-time All-Star is also batting .405 with five home runs, 12 doubles and 19 RBIs in a 21-game hitting streak against the Twins. It's the longest active hit streak in the majors against an opponent.

Toronto is batting .302 with 10 homers while averaging 6.0 runs during its 5-1 stretch. The Blue Jays are also the highest-scoring team in baseball at home, averaging 5.6 runs.

Marco Estrada (8-6, 3.53) has also thrived at home recently, going 4-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his last five such outings. He's posted a 2.66 ERA in his last eight starts overall.

After allowing a season high-tying five runs over four innings of a 5-2 loss at Seattle on July 24, Estrada bounced back by allowing two over 5 2-3 in Thursday's 5-2 home win over Kansas City.

He's struggled against Minnesota, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in four career starts.