The Minnesota Twins head to Detroit with a three-game losing streak, but they have an even bigger concern.
Center fielder Byron Buxton suffered a hip strain during a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Texas on Thursday. His status for the weekend series is uncertain.
Buxton departed in the bottom of the ninth when he came up gimpy after grounding out.
“I think he strained something running down the line,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It might have been something he felt earlier in the game when he hit a ground ball and wasn’t able to go 100 percent like he always does.”
Buxton is showing signs of having a career year. He’s batting .370 with nine homers and 17 RBIs.
There was a positive development for the Twins on Thursday. Infielder Nick Gordon made his major league debut. He went 1-for-2 with a walk.
“Nick had a great debut out there,” Baldelli said. “He seemed to be playing pretty confidently from the start.”
The Tigers have lost seven of their last eight games. They snapped a six-game losing streak with a 6-5 victory at Boston on Wednesday. Detroit scored a season-high nine runs on Thursday but gave up four eighth-inning runs in a 12-9 loss to the Red Sox.
“I thought our at-bats were pretty good this whole series,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We walk out of here losing two out of three but our bats started to come alive a little bit. … Our whole offensive profile was much better as this series went along. That is encouraging because we can do some things offensively if we give ourselves a chance inside the strike zone. Obviously, we want to continue that as we go home.”
Tarik Skubal (0-4, 6.14 ERA) will start for Detroit on Friday. Skubal hasn’t pitched more than four innings since he lasted 5 1/3 frames in his season debut.
He came out of the bullpen a couple of times before his last appearance on Friday, when he gave up three home runs in three innings to the New York Yankees.
The 24-year-old left-hander has walked 14 batters in 22 innings.
“We have to clean up his delivery and be more consistent with his delivery,” Hinch said. “He’s got a huge front side, a big leg kick. He doesn’t always land in the same spot. His release point is not always in the same spot. He sprays some balls up. Right now, until we control his delivery, we’re not going to be able to control his contact.”
In three career starts against Minnesota, Skubal is 1-0 with a 3.07 ERA.
He’ll be opposed by Matt Shoemaker, who already has a victory over the Tigers this season. He held them to one run on three hits in six innings on April 5. The Michigan native and Eastern Michigan grad has dominated Detroit in seven career starts, posting a 5-1 record and 0.79 ERA.
Shoemaker (1-3, 7.83 ERA) has taken his lumps since that outing, giving up four or more runs in three of his last four starts. He was hammered by Kansas City on Saturday, getting charged with nine runs (eight earned) on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“It’s going to turn. It’s going to change,” he said. “I’m going to keep fighting to get better. It’s going to happen. It’s just frustrating.”
–Field Level Media