The Minnesota Twins shocked many by winning 83 games and staying the AL wild-card race for much of the season under rookie manager Paul Molitor in 2015.

It's equally surprising that they're suddenly tied for the worst record in the majors this year.

Minnesota has lost six in a row at home, a skid it'll try to snap Thursday night against the Toronto Blue Jays as the struggling clubs open a four-game set at Target Field.

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The disappointment has continued ever since the Twins (10-29) dropped their first nine of the season, an unexpected start for a team that overachieved in Molitor's first year. He tried to rally his players prior to Wednesday's game in Detroit, but they committed a season-high three errors in a 6-3 defeat as the Tigers completed a three-game sweep.

Now they're tied at the bottom of the MLB standings with Atlanta.

"We talked a lot (before the game) about the first inning, being ready," Molitor said after Minnesota allowed a run in the opening inning. "Some of the basic things that you would hope at this level. All those kind of things that just jump out at you when you're playing poorly."

Joe Mauer went hitless in four at-bats and is 1 for 17 with seven strikeouts over his last four. He's hitting .140 since May 2.

"I keep telling the guys we still have a long way to go and stretches like this happen," Mauer said.

The Twins have been outscored 39-18 during their home losing streak and will turn to Ervin Santana to try to shut down Toronto. Santana (1-2, 3.38 ERA) had his best start of the season Saturday, allowing one run in six innings of a 6-3 win over Cleveland.

It was his second start since missing three weeks with a back injury. That outing also is one of only two Twins victories in their last 13.

"We have to keep our minds fresh like nothing has been going on," Santana said.

The right-hander lost 5-1 on Aug. 3 in his only start against the Blue Jays (19-23) last season, giving up three runs in six innings. Josh Donaldson his a two-run homer off of him and is hitting .357 with two homers and two doubles lifetime against Santana.

Jose Bautista also has gone deep twice off Santana, but he went 0 for 3 in Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Toronto has lost a season-high five straight and was held to seven runs during the Rays' three-game sweep.

Three of the Blue Jays' four hits in the finale were homers, as Michael Saunders, Edwin Encarnacion and Jimmy Paredes went deep.


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Marco Estrada has received only 10 runs of support through 43 2/3 innings this season, and he'll be on the mound again in this one. Estrada (1-2, 2.89) allowed two runs and five hits in 13 innings over his previous two starts before struggling Saturday, giving up a season-worst five runs and walking four through six innings of Toronto's 6-5, 10-inning defeat.

The right-hander allowed one homer for the third straight start after surrendering only one long ball through his first four outings combined.

Estrada beat the Twins 3-1 on Aug. 4 in his only start against them last season, giving up one run in 6 2/3 innings. He had a 6.08 ERA in his career against Minnesota prior to that outing.

Toronto manager John Gibbons will sit this one out to serve the last of a three-game suspension.