MLB

Preview: Twins vs. Tigers

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Tigers haven't played their best baseball during the last two weeks but finally have a chance to get back on track when they open a three-game series against the last-place Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night at Target Field.

The Tigers, 4-6 in their last 10 games and clinging to viability in the American League Central standings, have played a grueling schedule since the month began, including series against postseason contenders Seattle and Kansas City as well as division leaders Texas and Boston.

Minnesota is neither, and since going 15-11 in July, the Twins have stumbled to a 9-11 start in August, including a four-game series sweep last weekend at the hands of the surging Royals.

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It was the first time since 1999 that the Royals took all four games of a series with the Twins and the first since 1975 in Kansas City.

"I'm very frustrated," Twins manager Paul Molitor said, according to MLB.com. "To (go to Kansas City) and have to endure (those) four games. Some of these situations and environment where guys need to step up, our mental toughness needs to improve.

"Hopefully, we do that as we get more experience from our younger core. That's what it takes to win on the road against a team that's playing well."

Detroit trails first-place Cleveland but is one of a handful of teams within striking distance of Baltimore for the second AL wild-card spot. The Tigers came away with a 10-5 win over the Red Sox on Sunday, securing a series split against a team that entered the weekend on a six-game winning streak.

The series saw the return of outfielder Justin Upton, who has struggled in his first season in Detroit. Things got so bad last week that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus benched him for a few days after a 1-for-31 skid.

Upton spent time with hitting coach Wally Joyner and returned Saturday, getting a double off the center-field fence in his first game back before slugging two homers in Sunday's win.

"I continue to let him know he's the kind of guy that can carry a team," Tigers outfielder Cameron Maybin told MLB.com. "Not to put any pressure on himself, but he's that type of talent. We're going to need him to do things like that, that he's capable of doing. And it's something to watch when he does. When he gets them, he gets them."

Tuesday's opener features right-handers Anibal Sanchez for the Tigers against Kyle Gibson for the Twins.

Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning his last time out against the Royals but ended up with a no-decision, striking out eight and walking two while surrendering one hit in seven innings. He had a quality start against Minnesota on July 19, allowing three runs and striking out 10 in six innings but took the loss.

Gibson is coming off a complete game against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday when he allowed three runs and eight hits and fanned six. He has struggled in eight career starts against Detroit, posting a 3-4 record with a 5.04 ERA.