Twins begin playoff preparation vs. Tigers (Sep 29, 2017)
MINNEAPOLIS — Returning home as a playoff team, the Minnesota Twins can use the weekend to prepare for the American League wild-card game on Tuesday.
The Detroit Tigers are preparing for a long offseason.
After clinching a playoff berth Wednesday night, Minnesota finishes the regular season with a three-game series against Detroit. The Twins will set their rotation and get rest for regulars before the wild-card game, which would be played on the road against the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox.
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Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.02 ERA) starts Friday for the Twins, who have not announced the final two starters for the series. Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said that Gibson would be on a limited pitch count in case he is needed in relief of Ervin Santana on Tuesday.
Santana, who earlier was announced as the wild-card starter, pitched five scoreless innings in the Twins’ 5-2 loss at Cleveland on Thursday.
“We want to give some of these guys a little bit of a break but also keep them sharp,” Molitor said, according to MLB.com. “It’s a little tricky. We’ll have further conversations about pitching over the next four days as we might best set ourselves up for a roster on Tuesday.”
Detroit will start Matthew Boyd (6-10, 5.12 ERA) on Friday. Boyd has allowed a total of two earned runs in his past three starts, spanning 20 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings against Minnesota on Saturday in his latest outing.
“He’s been outstanding,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who already was told that he won’t return to the job next season. “He’s been much better since he cleaned up his mechanics. The last two outings have been superb.”
Boyd is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five starts against the Twins this season. The left-hander is 5-1 with a 3.55 ERA in his career against Minnesota, including 3-0, 3.33 in four turns at Target Field.
Gibson’s turnaround has played a big part in Minnesota securing a playoff berth a season after losing 103 games in 2016. Gibson lost his first four decisions this season, and his ERA once sat at 9.00. However, the right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.36 ERA over his past 11 starts, putting himself into consideration for a postseason role.
“It feels good,” Gibson told MLB.com. “There were moments early in the season where I was just hoping to be pitching in September. It’s been fun being part of the solution and success up here, for sure.”
Gibson is 2-2 this season against Detroit, giving up 20 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings. He is 6-7 with a 5.51 ERA in 15 career starts against the Tigers.
Detroit enters the final series with the American League’s worst record at 63-96. The only team with a worse mark is the San Francisco Giants (62-97). The Tigers had lost nine games in a row before defeating the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Thursday.
“I told (general manager) Al (Avila) I wanted to finish what we started,” Ausmus said after being told he wouldn’t return next season. “I’m not the type that’s a quitter.”
Minnesota leads the season series 9-7 after Detroit took 15 of 19 meetings in 2016.