The Detroit Tigers aren't getting caught looking ahead to the weekend's crucial series against Kansas City, instead doing everything they can to maintain their slim AL Central lead against the last-place Minnesota Twins.
Detroit looks to win a fifth straight game while beating host Minnesota for the fourth consecutive time Tuesday night.The Tigers (84-66) have won the last three Central titles, but they lead the second-place Royals by just 1 1/2 games with a three-game set beginning Friday in Kansas City.Detroit's other nine remaining games are against the Twins (63-87) and Chicago White Sox, who blew a three-run lead in Monday's 4-3 loss the Royals. The Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 advantage over Minnesota and blew the lead before former Twin Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back homers in the ninth for an 8-6 win."I'd rather get a lead and hold it, but that wasn't in the cards," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We saw that Kansas City was working its way back. We certainly would've loved it if Chicago could hold on, but we've got to keep our house in order."Hunter is hitting .407 during a six-game hitting streak against the Twins, while Cabrera is batting .436 with six homers in 14 games this month."Miggy didn't want me to have fun and celebrate too much. Before I could even get my elbow guard and my toe guard off, he hit one," Hunter said. "But all in all, it was a battle. Great win. Great game."J.D. Martinez went 3 for 4 and is hitting .400 with three homers and nine RBIs over his last six for the Tigers, who have won seven of eight. He's also batting .400 during an eight-game hitting streak against the Twins.Detroit's only defeat during its hot stretch came Wednesday against the Royals when it failed to produce any support for Rick Porcello in a 3-0 loss. Porcello (15-11, 3.23 ERA) lost his third straight start despite giving up two runs in 6 2/3 innings after allowing six runs in back-to-back outings.The right-hander has had some trouble with the Twins recently, going 1-1 with a 6.61 ERA in his last three starts against them, including two this season.Though Minnesota has lost nine of 11, it has scored six runs in three consecutive contests. Joe Mauer went 2 for 4 with four RBIs on Monday after not driving in a run in his previous 10.He's hitting .375 with 11 RBIs in his last six against the Tigers.Minnesota looks to keep its offense going while winning for the first time in eight tries with Ricky Nolasco on the mound.Nolasco (5-11, 5.64) had a solid outing Thursday, giving up one run in seven innings against Cleveland. The Twins couldn't get on the board, though, and lost 2-0.The right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.05 ERA over his last seven starts and hasn't won since beating Kansas City on July 1. It's been a disappointing season for Nolasco after signing a four-year, $48 million contract in November."Ricky gets stronger as the game goes along," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He kept us in it the whole way (Wednesday). Hopefully, we'll see that same guy out there all next year."Nolasco made his only career start against Detroit on June 15, giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 4-3 loss.