The Detroit Tigers will go for the three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins when the teams play at Target Field on Thursday afternoon.
Detroit owns a 9-2 record against Minnesota this season and has won three-straight games overall. The Twins, after a solid stretch of play in July and into early August have lost their last six dating back to last Thursday against Kansas City.
The Tigers have gotten plenty of offense in the series thus far, scoring eight runs in the opener on Tuesday before posting nine runs in Wednesday’s 9-4 victory.
All nine runs came with two outs, something that has been a bugaboo of the Twins virtually all season. The 287 runs allowed by Minnesota with two outs are by far the most in baseball, more than 20 ahead of Arizona, which is second.
“It’s kind of painful,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “A lot of opportunities to try and get off the field and it just wasn’t happening.”
The main culprits on Wednesday were Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton. Cabrera finished with four hits, including his team-leading 28th home run, and finished a triple short of the cycle.
Upton has been red hot since returning to the lineup, posting his fourth-straight two hit effort. He also homered, marking the third time in four games that he has hit a three-run blast.
“He lengthens the lineup and he’s got power as we saw tonight. He can hit the ball as far as anyone in the lineup,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “We just want to keep him rolling.”
Upton, in his first regular appearances against American League pitching, has found things to be challenging in his first year in Detroit. That hasn’t applied to Twins hurlers or at Target Field, where Upton has 11 hits in 21 at-bats in four games at the park.
After a recent 1-for-31 stretch at the plate, Ausmus gave Upton a few days on the bench to help clear his head. So far, the results are encouraging.
“Sometimes that’s needed,” Upton said. “A little break, but I’m back at it now. My timing is better. And I’m seeing some pitches.”
Thursday’s game will feature a pair of young pitchers, with Detroit sending left-hander Daniel Norris to the bump against Twins righty Jose Berrios.
Norris will be making his eighth start in the Majors this season; in none of the previous seven has he allowed more than three runs. Despite that, Norris hasn’t lasted more than 5 1/3 innings in any start and hasn’t earned a victory since June 29. Thursday’s start will mark the second against the Twins in Norris’ career; he allowed one run on one hit in 3 2/3 innings last season.
Berrios, arguably the top player in the Twins farm system, has found the adjustment to the Majors rough during his rookie season. He’s been blasted in each of his last three outings. In four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester earlier this month, opponents are hitting .329 off Berrios who has a 1-2 record and a 8.47 ERA.
The right-hander will be looking to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season so far against Detroit on May 16, when he allowed seven runs on three hits and four walks in just two-thirds of an inning at Comerica Park.