Twins-Tigers Preview

After Minnesota struggled in its first two series against the Detroit Tigers, the Twins have a chance to take this one and maintain their solid overall play.

Mike Pelfrey can help by continuing his recent success against the Tigers on Thursday.

Minnesota (19-15) used a five-run third inning to snap a five-game skid at Detroit with Wednesday's 6-2 victory. The Twins have won 10 of 13 since dropping two of three to the Tigers (20-14) from April 27-29.

The Twins had lost six of the first seven meetings with their AL Central foe and were outscored 24-2 in the first four at Comerica Park before breaking out to even this three-game set.

''It was good to get a win here,'' manager Paul Molitor said. ''That's a tough team to beat, especially in Detroit.''

Pelfrey (3-0, 2.62 ERA) allowed two runs, three hits and struck out seven in seven innings of a 3-2 home victory over Detroit on April 28. He went 1-3 with a 5.57 ERA in his first four starts against the Tigers, but is 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in the last three.

The right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA at Comerica Park, last pitching there in 2013.

Pelfrey, who last opened 4-0 in 2009 with the New York Mets, completed seven innings for the third time in his last four starts while giving up two runs during Friday's 9-3 victory at Cleveland. He was able to rebound after control issues forced him to leave after 3 1-3 innings of a 13-3 win over the Chicago White Sox in his previous outing.

"I think he's kind of figuring it out for himself a little bit as he goes, how to go about getting through innings with the stuff that he's using," Molitor told MLB's official website. "It was good to see."

Pelfrey will again oppose Anibal Sanchez (2-4, 5.44), who gave up three runs and nine hits when the two squared off April 28.

''Overall, (Sanchez) did an excellent job,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said after that outing. ''He certainly put us in position to win, we just couldn't do anything against Pelfrey.''

Sanchez allowed three hits in 6 2-3 innings of an 11-0 rout April 8 to improve to 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA in five starts against the Twins at Comerica.

However, the right-hander must bounce back from yielding six runs, nine hits and three walks in six innings of a 6-2 home defeat to Kansas City on Saturday.

Though Joe Mauer is 2 for his last 18 against Sanchez, he's batting .323 with nine RBIs in his last seven road contests and delivered a bases-loaded triple Tuesday.

Ex-Tiger Torii Hunter homered for the third time in five games but is 0 for 7 with two strikeouts versus Sanchez this season.

Detroit's J.D. Martinez had two hits Tuesday, but could miss the finale after leaving with a back injury. He's hitting .360 in his last 22 games against the Twins.

''I don't know how serious it is,'' Ausmus said. ''He took some swings in the cage and said it didn't bother him too much.''

Teammate Victor Martinez is 3 for 30 versus Minnesota in 2015, including 0 for 17 in the last four contests. He's 4 for his last 18 against Pelfrey.

Things might not get any easier for the switch-hitting Martinez, who is batting .462 against left-handers but .150 while facing right-handers.

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