DETROIT — Five straight wins have the Twins within 3 1/2 games of first place in the AL Central, but with 39 games to go, it’s still too early to think about the standings, Paul Molitor believes. But ignoring the Indians and Royals, not to mention all the wild-card contenders, isn’t easy.
“It’s still on the periphery for me. But it’s so exposed now, whether it’s on the scoreboard, or if you watch any of the highlight or recap shows, it’s just out there,” Molitor said. “You can’t help but know what’s going on.”
For the Twins’ manager, it’s all about trying to extend the winning streak to six, but they’ve come to a difficult place to do so. Minnesota is 3-6 against the Tigers this season, 1-2 in Comerica Park, but 7-21 against Detroit since the start of last season. Turning that around would be big deal for the Twins.
They’ll face Anibal Sanchez tonight, and the righthander hasn’t been good against them this year. Sanchez has given up 11 runs and 15 hits in 8 2/3 innings in four appearances against Minnesota this year, but that 11.42 ERA comes with a victory in his lone start against the Twins, on July 21.
Kyle Gibson is on the mound for the Twins, creating a matchup of pitchers with ugly ERA’s: Gibson’s 6.03 against Sanchez’s 6.62.
“We have seen a more consistent Kyle as of late. I know that he had a good one against this club last time out, too,” Molitor said of Gibson’s quality start — three runs in 7 1/3 innings — on July 22. “There are a lot of good hitters in that lineup. But he knows that if he executes, there’s a good chance he keeps us in the game.”
Dietrich Enns will get another chance to keep his new team in a game, too; Molitor said the rookie lefthander, who recorded seven outs in his debut on Thursday, will get a second start, either next Wednesday against Cleveland or next Saturday against Arizona.
It rained much of the afternoon here, but the clouds are gone and the field is in great shape. Here are the lineups for tonight’s first of three in Detroit: