The offense for the Twins has been a pleasant surprise this season, but they'll face a tough test on Sunday against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in the rubber match between the two clubs at Target Field.
Verlander has been dominant in six career starts in Minnesota, going 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 38 innings.
He's also off to another impressive start this season, as the right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA, including three straight wins over his last three outings.
But Verlander will be facing a Twins team that leads the Majors in runs scored per game, buoyed by the fact they also lead the Majors in walks. The Twins walked eight times in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Tigers.
"I think everybody is just trying to get on base, and there's always conversation about it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of our hitters have a few more at-bats in this league and understand it a bit more. It's experience and not panicking in certain situations. They're doing a lot better at that. We're striking out a little too much, but that goes along with it by going deep in counts. But it's an effort, and it's experience."
Right-hander Kyle Gibson will also be looking to bounce back from his worst start of the year, as he was hit hard by the Rays on Tuesday, giving up seven runs on 10 hits over just three innings. Gibson, who will be making his fifth start of the season, saw his ERA rise from 0.93 to 3.63 because of his subpar outing.
"I don't think I did anything too differently, other than the fact that I didn't execute and they did a good job up there of working the at-bats," Gibson said.
Tigers: Ortega recalled from Triple-A Toledo
The Tigers recalled right-handed reliever Jose Ortega from Triple-A Toledo and optioned rookie righty Justin Miller to Toledo before Saturday's game. Ortega was thrown right into the fire, giving up four runs over 1 1/3 innings in relief of Anibal Sanchez, who exited the game in the third inning with a blister on his right middle finger.
"We ran through so many arms. It wasn't anything that Justin did," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It had nothing to do with how Justin pitched [Friday] night. He'd pitched well the previous two outings. It was just, we needed help in the bullpen."
Twins: Willingham getting close to swinging the bat
Outfielder Josh Willingham said his left wrist is continuing to feel better, and that he remains hopeful he'll be able to swing the bat by early next week. Willingham, who is on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7 with a small fracture in his wrist, will need a rehab assignment once he's deemed healthy enough to play.
"It's feeling a lot better," Willingham said. "It's a little point-tender, so once that goes away I can hit. As soon as that tenderness goes away, I'll start swinging."
• Rain is in the forecast for Sunday's game, and it could lead to the game being delayed or postponed.
• Tigers catcher Alex Avila said he was fine after leaving Friday's game in the fifth inning with a contusion on his left shin. Bryan Holaday replaced Avila in the lineup on Saturday, but Avila later came on as a pinch-hitter and replaced Holaday in the eighth inning.
• Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello reported minor soreness on Saturday after taking a glancing blow off his pitching elbow Friday night. It is not expected to keep him from making his next start.
• Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki is off to a hot start offensively, and he leads all Major League backstops with 19 RBIs.
• Twins rookie Josmil Pinto drew his 17th walk of the season on Saturday to set the club's rookie record for walks in the month of April. Tim Teufel held the previous record, as he walked 16 times as a rookie in April in 1984.