Exercise in mediocrity

A thumping by the Tigers dropped the Twins to 5-5 in what was viewed as a critical 12-game homestand.

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They saw it with Cleveland. And now they are seeing it with Detroit.

The Twins are realizing just how hard it's going to be to do battle with the big boys of the AL Central. Their faces were splashed with cold water again on Friday as the Tigers, behind righthander Max Scherzer and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, smoked them 8-2.

The Twins had to rally to win the final two games of their four-game series against Cleveland earlier this week. Now they'll have to do the same against Detroit, who has moved to a 1 1/2-game lead over the Indians in the division.

"It's going to be real tough," said Twins lefthander Brian Duensing, who took the loss and fell to 7-8. "They are good teams and they are on top for a reason. It's unfortunate that we've had to dig ourselves out of a humongous hole."

Scherzer improved to 11-5 as Detroit knocked the Twins seven games back in the division, damaging their hopes of narrowing their deficit.

Despite fielding their strongest lineup in over a month -- thanks to the return of outfielder Jason Kubel from the disabled list -- the Twins managed one run on four hits through the first six innings.

Ten games into a crucial 12-game homestand, the Twins are 5-5.

Going back to June 22 -- when the Twins lost the first of six consecutive games -- they are 14-14 since then. So the Twins' season has gone like this: A horrible start (17-37) followed by a brief run of dominance (15-2) followed by a run of mediocrity.

Other teams in the division tailed off some in recent weeks. But the Tigers look ready to surge.

The Twins clubhouse was mostly empty and largely silent after Friday's loss.

"By no means does anyone think we are out of it," Duensing said, "We go on a little bit of a tear here, we are right back in it. I think every single one of us knows that."

The Tigers look refreshed, having won the first two games of this four-game series while extending their winning streak over the Twins to a whopping 11 games. If the Twins can't beat the Tigers, how do they expect to win the division?

Duensing struck out five batters over the first two innings but two of his pitches were hit out of the park. Ryan Raburn homered in the first inning and Peralta homered in the second to give Detroit a 2-0 lead. The Twins got an RBI groundout by Danny Valencia in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Peralta added a two-run single in the third to make it 4-1. Duensing was knocked out in the fifth.

Peralta continues to feast at Target Field. He had four RBI through his first four at-bats and ran his career numbers at the Twins' new ballpark to .432 with five homers and 15 RBI.

In 12 games at Target Field, Peralta has five home runs.

"Right now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "[Peralta] is probably as locked in as we have seen him."

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Buffalo 6
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Pittsburgh 2 3rd Prd 5:53
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 9:49
Chicago 0
Arizona 1 2nd Prd
Edmonton 1
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