Twins try to stretch win streak to 4 straight vs. Tigers
The Minnesota Twins are dead last in the American League Central, but have been playing like a contender lately.
The Twins will shoot for just their second four-game winning streak of the season tonight in the opener of a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Minnesota just went 4-3 on a seven-game homestand and posted its third win in a row with Sunday's 10-8 triumph over the Kansas City Royals.
Trevor Plouffe hit two home runs, while Josh Willingham and Drew Butera also went deep for the Twins, who swept a doubleheader with KC on Saturday. Starter Francisco Liriano did not record a decision, as he allowed five runs -- four earned -- over 5 1/3 innings. Jeff Gray threw a scoreless inning for the win.
"It was a good win out there today," said Willingham, who went deep for a second straight game. "We got down early but didn't let it get on us. Then we grabbed our opportunity in the sixth and some guys came up with some big hits. We needed all of them today."
Twins catcher Joe Mauer was named to the All-Star team for the fifth time in his career on Sunday. He was not picked in 2011 because of injuries.
"Any time you get asked to go to an All-Star game, it's a great honor," Mauer said on Minnesota's website. "Obviously after the season we had last year, the season I had last year, it's nice to go. It just kind of hit me that I'll be heading there."
Twins manager Rod Gardenhire needs one more victory for 900 in his career.
Liam Hendriks is still searching for his first major league win and gets the nod tonight for the Twins. Hendriks has lost each of his last five starts and was last in action in Tuesday's 3-2 setback to the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up all three runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Hendriks, a right-hander, has made seven starts this season and owns a 6.82 earned run average over that time. He went 0-2 in four starts a year ago and has never faced the Tigers.
Detroit is back home for a seven-game residency and went 5-5 on a 10-game road trip.
The Tigers won three of four games in Tampa Bay and concluded the set with Sunday's 5-3 win behind RBI singles by Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder in the top of the sixth inning. Fielder and Alex Avila both finished with two hits and an RBI for Detroit.
"Wins are golden. They are hard to get," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "We have found that out all year long so far."
Tigers starter Drew Smyly allowed three runs in five for the win and Jose Valverde nailed down his 15th in the ninth.
On Sunday, Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander were selected to the AL All-Star team. Fielder is in his first season with Detroit.
"It's cool," Fielder said on the team's site. "It means a lot. I guess it means I'm nice to the fans."
It's been a rough year for Doug Fister and he hopes to get on track tonight versus the Twins. Fister is only 1-5 with a 3.91 earned run average in nine starts and lasted only 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 13-9 loss at Texas, as he allowed nine runs -- eight earned -- and nine hits.
Opponents are batting .278 off Fister, who is 1-1 in three starts at home and lost to Minnesota in a 4-3 setback on May 17. The right-hander gave up four runs, three of which were earned, and nine hits in six innings. In six career starts against the Twins, Fister is 1-5 with a 3.43 ERA.
Detroit has won three of five games against AL Central-rival Minnesota this season and swept a three-game set in the Twin Cities back in late May.