Just as they did in their series earlier this week against the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins have an opportunity to, essentially, gain no ground at all in the American League Central on Sunday afternoon. They will finish their four-game set with the Detroit Tigers at Target Field, and with a victory can pull themselves back to within five games in the AL Central race.
The Twins were five games out going into their series against Cleveland on Monday, but split the four-game set to remain five back. After dropping seven back with losses in their first two games against Detroit, the Twins will look for a second straight victory this afternoon.
Minnesota was bolstered on Saturday afternoon by the return of Scott Baker from the disabled list. Baker threw five shutout innings after coming back from an elbow injury suffered before the All-Star break, and the Twins gave him and the rest of their pitchers enough run support in a 4-1 victory. It was their first victory over the Tigers this season.
In order to try to win their second in a row, the Twins will give the baseball to left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-7, 4.56 ERA). Liriano has not take a loss since getting pounded on June 25 against Milwaukee, and a win today would even his record at .500. His only start this season against Detroit was not a good one, as back on May 10 he lasted just three innings, allowing four runs on three hits in a 10-2 Minnesota loss. His last start was on Tuesday, and he pitched well, allowing just one run on four hits to the Cleveland Indians in six innings of work as Minnesota won 2-1.
He will be opposed by Tigers' right-hander Rick Porcello (9-6, 4.76 ERA). He has faced the Twins twice this season, being credited with the victory both times. He was the starter for Detroit in the 10-2 Tigers win on May 10, giving up one run on three hits in five innings at Target Field. He also faced the Twins on June 1 in Detroit, and allowed two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings as Detroit defeated Minnesota 4-2. He is riding a personal three-game winning streak going into this one.
First pitch for this one will be happening at 3:10 PM Central time. It was originally a 1:10 start, but was moved to accommodate today's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, which will feature former Twin Bert Blyleven. Fans at Target Field will be able to watch the ceremonies on the big screen prior to the start of today's game. Twinkie Town will have their Game Thread up and running for you when the action gets underway, and we will have the recap here for you when things have finished up.