The Detroit Tigers are the only team in the American League Central with a winning record, and a hot streak would give them some breathing room.
Detroit is 7-4 in June entering Friday’s opener of a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins and possesses a 4 1/2-game lead over the Cleveland Indians. Minnesota is in fourth place in the division and is struggling to find consistency both at the plate and on the mound.
The Twins were vying for a series sweep before losing 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday while being outhit 16-3. Justin Morneau had a two-run double, but the 2006 AL MVP has failed to hit with authority and has just two home runs this season.
Detroit plans to hold catcher Alex Avila out of Friday’s lineup with the hope that three straight days of rest will help shake him out of a 4-for-30 slump that has dropped his average to .169.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit), FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Rick Porcello (3-3, 4.86 ERA) vs. Twins LH Scott Diamond (4-5, 5.19)
Porcello was roughed up for five runs and 10 hits over five innings in a no-decision against Minnesota on May 23. He lost to the Twins on April 4 and has a 6.97 ERA in the two starts against Minnesota this season. Porcello is 6-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 17 career outings against the Twins.
Diamond was hit hard by Washington in his last start as he gave up seven runs (six earned) and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against Detroit this season and 2-2 with a 2.98 ERA in seven career outings against the Tigers. Diamond is 1-4 with a 6.41 ERA in five home starts this season.
1. The Twins had a season-best four-game home winning streak snapped with Thursday’s loss.
2. Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera is 10-for-19 with a homer and six RBIs against Diamond.
3. Minnesota OF Josh Willingham is 7-for-13 lifetime against Porcello and has hit two homers off him this season.