After sweeping a three-game series from the Minnesota Twins for the first time since 2016 last weekend at home, the Detroit Tigers will now try to avoid losing three in a row to the Twins in the span of two days on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
The Tigers (17-19), who dropped both ends of a doubleheader at Target Field on Friday afternoon, will turn to hard-throwing Tarik Skubal (1-1, 6.75 ERA). The left-hander will be making just his fourth career start but comes in off his first major league victory, a 4-2 win over Minnesota on Aug. 29.
Skubal held the Twins to three hits and two runs, including a solo homer by Nelson Cruz, over five innings in the victory, striking out two and walking none.
Minnesota (24-16) will counter with right-hander Kenta Maeda (4-1, 2.53 ERA), who took his first loss in a Twins uniform last Sunday at Detroit, 3-2, allowing three runs, including solo homers to Jeimer Candelario and Jonathan Schoop, as well as a triple to Victor Reyes.
Maeda, who is tied for the American League lead in opponents’ batting average (.163) and ranks fifth in ERA (2.53), is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers.
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire lamented his team’s lack of offense in the Friday doubleheader. The Tigers managed just 10 singles and a triple from Schoop in 14 innings while losing 2-0 and 3-2 in eight innings.
“We scored two runs all day,” Gardenhire said. “That’s not going to help you win too many games. We tried to hang in there with our pitching. … It’s just one of those things. They got big hits and we didn’t.”
Detroit fell three games out of the second wild-card spot behind the New York Yankees after the sweep. Gardenhire admitted his team’s spirits were down a little bit afterward.
“We’re bummed,” he said. “We just lost a doubleheader so (the locker room) is a little quieter.
“(Minnesota) is a good baseball team. We fought for two games, and they were good ballgames. We just didn’t drive in any runs. We didn’t come up with any big hits. Maybe one or two. It’s hard when you score two runs in 14 innings. It’s really hard to win.”
Schoop added, “It’s tough. We’ve got to forget about it and come back tomorrow. It’s really important we come out tomorrow and get a win. We gotta do what we’ve gotta do, whatever it takes to win. We’ve already had a long losing streak (nine games) and you don’t want to go through that again.”
Minnesota shortstop Jorge Polanco had almost as many hits as Detroit’s entire team in the second game, going 4-for-4 and driving in the tying run in the seventh inning with an RBI single off reliever Gregory Soto. Polanco also led off the first inning with a home run in the opener.
“He’s getting it done in a little bit of a different way, I think, this year,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said, according to MLB.com. “His right-handed swing has seemed very compact and direct and strong, and he’s had continual good at-bats against left-handed pitching.”
–Field Level Media