Tigers-Twins Preview

After a frustrating road trip that included three one-run
losses, the Minnesota Twins open a nine-game homestand hoping to
increase their AL Central lead.

Owners of the AL’s second-best home record, the Twins begin a
three-game set against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Minnesota (75-56) resumes play following a 3-4 swing. That began
with three losses to AL West-leading Texas prior to winning the
finale Thursday, then the Twins took the first two games from
last-place Seattle before a 2-1 loss Sunday.

Minnesota led 1-0 in the seventh before the Mariners came back
in the bottom of the frame thanks to a wild pitch, misplayed fly
ball and fielder’s choice that should have been an inning-ending
double play.

“This is the end of 13 days in a row (of playing) with a lot of
travel, late-night travel,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think
guys are worn down right now.”

The loss came with a chance for Minnesota to increase its lead
over second-place Chicago in the AL Central.

A lengthy homestand, however, provides the Twins with a good
opportunity to pull away from the White Sox before they meet for
the final time Sept. 14-16 in Chicago. At 40-22, Minnesota trails
only the New York Yankees for the AL’s best home record, and has
posted five shutouts while winning 11 of the last 13 at Target
Field.

The Twins are 5-1 at home against the Tigers this year, and will
turn to Brian Duensing (7-2, 2.19 ERA) in the opener.

Duensing suffered his first loss as a starter after giving up
four runs in six innings of a 4-3 defeat at Texas on Wednesday. The
left-hander had been 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts since
joining the rotation in July.

Duensing, who is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in two home starts, has
faced the Tigers (65-66) five times as a reliever this season,
pitching 4 1-3 scoreless innings. He was 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two
starts against them as a rookie last year.

Detroit comes in having won seven of 10 including a 10-4 victory
over Toronto on Sunday to split the four-game set. The Tigers have
hit .311 while outscoring their opponents 66-24 over the last 10
games.

Ryan Raburn homered twice and drove in four Sunday. After
entering August batting .211, Raburn has boosted his average 43
points while hitting .394 (13 for 33) with 10 RBIs over the last
nine games.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” he said. “I’m a real streaky guy
anyway. Once I get in a hot span, it seems to click for several
weeks.”

However, Raburn has hit .143 (3 for 21) against the Twins this
season, and is 2 for 12 in four games in Minneapolis.

Armando Galarraga (4-5, 4.04) has pitched well lately as he
tries again for his first win in Minnesota. The right-hander is 0-4
with a 7.16 ERA in five starts including June 29, when he allowed
six runs in four innings of an 11-4 defeat.

However, he’s 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last two starts
overall. Galarraga gave up a run over 6 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s
4-3 loss in 12 to Kansas City.

Joe Mauer, who is hitting .327 this year, is 9 for 20 with two
homers against Galarraga. However, the Twins catcher is batting
.154 (4 for 26) against the Tigers this year.