Preview: Twins vs. Orioles

With perhaps the most frustrating road trip of their season in the rearview mirror, the Minnesota Twins return home Thursday looking to get back on track in the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.

More Twins coverage

Minnesota went 1-8 on their I-94 excursion that began by dropping two of three to the Chicago White Sox and ended with sweeps by the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. As a result, the Twins now sit 13 games under .500 and 12 games behind American League Central-leading Cleveland, holding down third place in the division.

“I think we’re all frustrated,” manager Paul Molitor said after the Brewers hit three solo home runs in a 3-2 victory over the Twins at Miller Park on Wednesday. “You win one game and you’re on the road for 10 days, playing good teams.

“We’re creating some of our own problems. At the same time, we’re not catching a lot of breaks. We’ll get home, looking forward to that. Have a nice homestand before the break. We’ll try to get these guys ready for a series with Baltimore tomorrow.”

The Twins will turn to Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) for his first start of the season in the hopes of turning things around.

He has made just one other major league appearance this season, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings of relief May 30 at Kansas City. He has a 5.66 ERA in five career outings, including three starts, in the big leagues overall. Slegers has never faced Baltimore.

Like the Twins, the Orioles come into the series looking to snap out of a slump. They have lost nine of their last 10 games, including two in a row to Philadelphia this week.

Manager Buck Showalter still has confidence his team can turn things around.

“There are some really good people in that locker room and I’d really like to see them get a return, but you can’t will it. You can’t just hope it,” said Showalter. “It’s got to be one pitch at a time. You can’t look at the big picture.”

Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48) gets the start for Baltimore on Thursday, and he is looking for his first victory since May 21. He has a 3.21 ERA over his last five outings, four of which were quality starts.

Keeping the ball in the park has been a big reason for that recent run of success. Cashner had allowed 11 home runs through his first nine starts but only three over his last seven — and none his last time out when he held the Los Angeles Angels to a run on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over six innings of work.

“That’s what I try to do every time I take the mound, just keep the team in the game and grind it out, no matter if it’s pretty or ugly,” Cashner told the Baltimore Sun. “Just try to get through the seventh. Maybe next time I’ll get through the seventh. I thought I got stronger as I went along. The breaking stuff was better, the offspeed was better. Something to build on as we go and keep moving forward.”

Cashner will be making his first career start at Target Field but is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Twins, who tagged him for five runs (four earned) over five innings on March 31 in Baltimore.