The American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins, who have struggled at home recently, open a three-game series on Friday night against a team that on paper could be the perfect opponent to turn things around against.
Minnesota, which is 2-7 in its last nine games at Target Field in Minneapolis, hosts the Detroit Tigers, who are 38 games behind the Twins in the standings in last place in the AL Central.
Detroit also owns the worst road record in the majors (17-43). The Tigers, who lost at Houston, 6-3, on Thursday night while the Twins enjoyed a day off, are 2-5 on their current 10-game road trip.
Right-hander Jose Berrios (10-6, 3.37 ERA) will start for Minnesota while right-hander Drew VerHagen (3-2, 6.67) will make his first career start against the Twins.
Minnesota comes in off a 4-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, managing just three hits off Lucas Giolito while being shut out for the third time this season.
“He’s a tough customer, and he was on his game,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of Giolito to MLB.com. “He pounded the strike zone, but he also has elite stuff, too. He made it tough for us from the get-go. We weren’t really able to get much going off of him.”
The Twins managed just a pair of singles — one on a bunt by Jorge Polanco — until Jonathan Schoop doubled with one out in the eighth inning. Giolito finished with 12 strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
“He didn’t bite himself in the foot in any way,” said Baldelli. “He kept bringing it to us, and today we just didn’t have the answer for him.”
Baldelli no doubt is hoping to have similar comments about his ace after Friday night’s contest. Berrios, who was 8-2 on June 6 en route to an All-Star Game invite, is just 2-4 since and comes in off a no-decision at Texas on Saturday despite being staked to an 8-2 lead in the second inning. He allowed seven runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings while striking out six in a game the Twins won, 12-7.
“I think he deserved better than what his line’s going to end up looking like after this game,” Baldelli said.
Still, it was the third straight start that Berrios failed to garner a victory and the second in that span that he allowed at least seven runs. He gave up a career-high nine earned runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings in a 12-7 home loss to the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 6.
Berrios is 4-1 with a 6.25 ERA in eight career appearances and seven starts against Detroit. He won his only start against the Tigers this season, 6-4, on April 14 when he allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven.
VerHagen is 0-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 career appearances against Minnesota. He threw one inning of shutout relief against the Twins in his only appearance this season on April 13 in a 4-3 loss.
It will be fourth start of the season for VerHagen, who allowed three hits in five innings of shutout relief to pick up the win in a 2-0 victory at Tampa Bay last Saturday.
“VerHagen was unbelievable against a really good team,” said Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire.
–Field Level Media
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