No Sweep Says Pudge

The Minnesota Twins used a huge run heading into last July to get back into contention. They're doing it a little differently this year, with similar results.

The Twins look to complete a sweep at Comerica Park for the first time since 2004 as they complete a three-game set against Jeremy Bonderman and the Detroit Tigers on Sunday night.

Minnesota (42-37) closed last June by winning 16 of 17 games, although it still trailed first-place Detroit by 11 games. The Twins were able to carry that momentum over the rest of the season to win their fourth AL Central title in five years.

This year, Minnesota has won 13 of 19 games going into July after winning the first two games of this series. The Twins are in a far better position in the division race, trailing first-place Cleveland by only 5 1/2 games.

Minnesota is in position to sweep at Comerica for the first time since taking all four games from Sept. 10-13, 2004. The Twins won the opener 11-1 behind a grand slam from Joe Mauer, and won 8-5 on Saturday as Michael Cuddyer and Lew Ford both homered and drove in three runs apiece.

"A couple of good ballgames for us to start the (11-game) road trip," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The top three hitters in the lineup - Luis Castillo, Jason Bartlett and Mauer - have scored a total of 10 runs in the first two games.

"They've got a real good team," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "If you let the table setters get on, they're real dangerous."

Bonderman (8-1, 3.90 ERA) will try to bounce back after suffering his first loss in his last outing. He allowed four runs - two earned - and seven hits over seven innings in an 8-3 loss to Texas on Monday.

"I didn't do my job," he said. "I take full responsibility for this."

The right-hander's previous loss in the regular season was to Minnesota on Sept. 10. He went 0-2 with a 5.33 ERA against the Twins last season, and the Tigers lost all four of those games.

This is his first start this year against Minnesota.

Twins slugger Justin Morneau, who missed five games with a bruised lung, is 4-for-10 in this series after going hitless in three at-bats Thursday against Toronto in his return to the lineup. He's been the designated hitter in his three games since coming back, but may be back at first base Sunday.

Detroit's Magglio Ordonez went 0-for-4 on Saturday, ending his 15-game hitting streak. He's 1-for-8 in the series and his average has dropped to .370 after he entered the set leading the majors with a .377 average.

Gary Sheffield will complete his two-game suspension for the Tigers on Sunday for allegedly throwing a piece of his broken bat at an umpire on May 31 against Cleveland.

The Tigers have lost 10 of their last 14 home games and are 1-4 on this 12-game homestand.

Scott Baker (2-2, 5.77) has pitched well for Minnesota in his last two starts, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. Baker yielded one run and four hits over seven-plus innings on Tuesday in the Twins' 2-1, 12-inning win over Toronto.

The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers, although Ordonez is 5-for-12 (.417) against him.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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