The Minnesota Twins were likely happy to rid themselves of Mike Pelfrey after three unsuccessful seasons with the team. The problem now is Phil Hughes is posting worse numbers than the guy who left this offseason for a division rival.
Pelfrey takes the mound against his former club Tuesday night in Detroit as the Tigers try to win the first two of a three-game series with his former club.
Pelfrey (0-4, 5.80 ERA) already made his return to Minnesota on May 1 and gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings of a 6-5 win. He's followed that with two more no-decisions, including a more respectable one in Thursday's 7-5 loss in Baltimore.
The right-hander gave up two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings with a season-high five strikeouts and left in the sixth with a 5-1 lead.
“From my standpoint, it's encouraging,” Pelfrey told MLB's official website. “I think (my command) was good. I was able to throw some offspeed pitches behind in the count, too.”
His manager agreed, if only because of how his other outings have gone and how the rest of the game went.
“It seems like every day it's something different,” Brad Ausmus said. “We had missed opportunities, but we had a lead and we didn't hold it. Take your pick. I would say Pelfrey's outing would be the one positive.”
Hughes (1-6, 6.44) doesn't have much to be optimistic about after his recent run. The right-hander has lost his last four starts with an 8.50 ERA after giving up five runs and six hits in four innings of Wednesday's 9-2 home loss to the Orioles. He gave up three homers and has seen five balls clear the fence in his last three starts.
“It's been a miserable three starts for me,” Hughes said. “I was missing over the plate a lot and losing my identity as a pitcher a little bit. I take a lot of pride in being aggressive and attacking the zone, but I feel like I've been tentative and not attacking with my best stuff.”
The second loss on the skid was against the Tigers – also a 9-2 home defeat after giving up four runs and seven hits in five innings. Since the start of last season, he's 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts in the series.
Miguel Cabrera (18 for 41 with six home runs and five doubles) and James McCann (4 for 5 with two doubles) have hit him best, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 2 for 15 with 11 strikeouts.
The Tigers (17-21) opened the series with an eight-run first inning on their way to Monday's 10-8 win for their fourth straight in the series. J.D. Martinez was 3 for 4 with a home run and is 5 for 8 with two homers in his last two games. Ian Kinsler was also 3 for 4 with a homer in a second straight game and is 9 for 20 in his last five.
The Twins (10-27) actually came back to tie it briefly in the seventh but saw their two-game winning streak come to an end. Miguel Sano was 2 for 5 and homered for the third time in five games.