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Twins Head To Detroit, Look To Tighten Race Before The Break

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins will try and gain some ground in the American League Central this weekend, as they close the first half of their season with a three-game set against the division-leading Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Minnesota, though, may have its work cut out for itself, as it faces right- hander Justin Verlander in Friday's opener. Verlander won for the fifth time in his last six starts on Saturday against Seattle, as he allowed a run and seven hits in seven innings, upping his season mark to 10-5 to go along with a 3.85 earned run average.

Verlander lost to the Twins the last time he faced them and is 5-7 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 games against them.

Detroit enters this series with a half-game lead on the Chicago White Sox in the Central and sits two games in front of the Twins. The Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, winning the finale 4-2.

Max Scherzer threw seven solid innings in that one and was charged with one run on six hits to win his fourth game in his last five starts.

"He pitched great," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Scherzer. "He was spent after getting out of the seventh, but he pitched a great game against a good hitting team."

Magglio OrdonezCarlos Guillen and Brandon Inge each drove in a run while Danny Worth added his first career homer for the Tigers, who have won five of their previous six overall and 15 of their last 17 at home.

Miguel Cabrera is also riding a season-best 16-game hitting streak.

The Tigers will take their cuts tonight against lefty Francisco Liriano, who is 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA. Liriano did not get a decision on Saturday against Tampa Bay, despite allowing a run and four hits in seven innings of his team's 8-6 loss. He also struck out 10, but saw his winless streak hit four games.

Liriano is 1-1 against the Tigers this season, and is 4-2 lifetime against them with a 4.41 ERA in 13 games, nine of which have been starts.

Minnesota was denied a series win in Toronto on Thursday, as it dropped the rubber match of its three-game set with the Jays, 8-1.

Scott Baker started on the mound and suffered the loss for the Twins, who have dropped five of their last seven games overall. Baker (7-8) yielded five runs on seven hits over six innings of work. Michael Cuddyer homered for the lone Minnesota run.

"I was making some good pitches, but I got a few up and made several mistakes," said Baker. "For the most part, I thought I threw okay -- I don't think the (statistics) justify how I felt about my outing."

Minnesota has won six of its nine matchups with the Tigers this season.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.