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Continued: After the break, rest of AL Central goes Tiger hunting

Twins players, despite being a whopping 10½ games behind Detroit and 6½ back in the wild card, don’t feel the gap between them and the rest of the division is that great. They will have to do plenty of convincing, because they have been unable to put all facets of the game together for any stretch of time. And they haven’t stayed healthy.

“We have to become a good team rather than an inconsistent team,” closer Glen Perkins said.

Perhaps no team in the division has more important players on the disabled list than the Twins. Shortstop Danny Santana (left knee bone bruise) could return this weekend against Tampa Bay and return to the top of the batting order, which the Twins sorely need. First baseman Joe Mauer (right oblique strain) was starting to hit like previous years before his injury, but he might need a couple more weeks to recover. Righthander Ricky Nolasco (right elbow strain) is out indefinitely, too, and has not pitched like the staff ace the Twins need him to be.

For the Twins to back up their claims that their best baseball will come in the second half, they will need those three players back in the lineup. Then they can work on climbing up the standings.

“We’ll see how it goes,” righthander Phil Hughes said. “No one has given up.”









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  • The key: Will Joe Nathan-led bullpen — 12th in the AL in ERA — hold together to support a deep, talented starting rotation?

  • The key: The Royals are 10th in the AL in runs scored and last in home runs.

  • The key: The Indians have committed more errors than any other team in the AL.

  • The key: The staff ERA of 4.17 ranks 12th among AL teams, one spot ahead of the Twins.

  • The key: Need Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco to get healthy and carry the load, as planned.

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