(Updated: UPDATES Twins status in the sixth sentence)
The Minnesota Twins had a rough start to the road trip but are picking things back up against the fading Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, who announced on Friday that manager Brad Ausmus would not return next season, will try to play spoiler when they host the Twins in the third of a four-game series on Saturday.
The Tigers are going through a rebuild and decided Ausmus, who has not guided the team to the postseason since his first season at the helm in 2014, was not the right man for the job. “The organization, the club, got to a point where we needed change on the field,” general manager Al Avila told reporters after announcing that Ausmus, who will stay on to finish the season, would not be getting a contract extension. “We needed to change the roster, and we started trading players, so the conclusion is: OK, you know what? Let’s just take a whole brand-new road and opening up to new things.” Minnesota is showing how quickly a team can turn around with young talent and are aiming for the second American League wild card after finishing in last place in the AL Central in 2016. The Twins will try to maintain their comfortable 3 1/2-game edge on that spot when they send Ervin Santana to the mound on Saturday opposite Detroit lefty Matthew Boyd.
TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Ervin Santana (15-8, 3.34 ERA) vs. Tigers LH Matthew Boyd (6-10, 5.33)
Santana suffered his first loss in nearly two months when he allowed two runs and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings at the New York Yankees on Monday. The 34-year-old Dominican scattered three hits across six scoreless frames in his previous start and is carrying a 3.86 ERA through four outings this month. Santana’s last loss prior to Monday came at home against Detroit on July 21, when he was shelled for five runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 frames.
Boyd came within one out of a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox last time out and settled for his first career shutout while walking one and striking out five. The 26-year-old did not work more than six innings in any of his previous nine outings. Boyd tossed six scoreless frames against Minnesota on April 11 and is 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts versus the division rivals in 2017.
1. Ausmus is 312-326 in his tenure with the Tigers.
2. Minnesota CF Byron Buxton is 4-for-8 with four RBIs in the series.
3. Detroit OF Mikie Mahtook left Friday’s game in the fourth inning with a left groin injury.
PREDICTION: Twins 3, Tigers 2