Tigers return from rare day off to open series vs. Twins | KFAN 100.3 FM

posted by Aj Mansour -

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A day off for the Detroit Tigers must have felt like a vacation. 

The Tigers have been going nonstop for the last few weeks, in part because of makeup games due to April postponements. They played 18 games in 17 days without a break. 

The Tigers went 10-8 during that stretch before getting a chance to relax on Monday. They get back on the field Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. 

"Man, I don't know who made this schedule, but it's been tough for us," Tigers center fielder Leonys Martin told the Detroit News. "A lot of late flights, day games, night games. But we've got to do it. We never gave up. We go out and fight. Now we just have to move forward." 

Detroit (31-36) trails Cleveland by five games in the American League Central standings. The Tigers dropped two of three to the Indians during the weekend. 

"We hung in there," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told the News. "We played a lot of close ballgames. One swing of the bat here or there or one good pitch could've changed it. Ten and eight, yes, but we could have been better. 

I think that's what keeps driving these guys. We know we can do better." Minnesota (28-34) is just a half game behind Detroit in the standings, It also lost two of three last weekend, though it salvaged the finale on Sunday with a 7-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels. 

"It feels good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said during his postgame press conference. "(Wins) have been hard to come by. As much as we've had a winning homestand, it kind of feels like a roller coaster. When you lose, it's been tough because the games have felt winnable." 

Molitor's club took two of three at home against the Tigers on May 21-23. They'll be making their first trip to Comerica Park this season. 

Converted reliever Blaine Hardy (2-1, 3.66 ERA) will start for the Tigers. Hardy got roughed up by Boston in his last outing on Wednesday, allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings. He won his previous two starts. 

All but one of the runs Hardy gave up in Fenway came in the third inning. 

"It's a good hitting team. The third caught up to me really quick," Hardy told MLB.com. "They put some good swings on some good pitches. That being said, I was happy with my command, I was happy with my pitch selection. 

"It just didn't go my way in the third. You take away the third, I thought it was a good outing." Hardy also started a game at Minnesota on May 21 and got a no-decision while giving up two runs in five innings. He has made 18 career appearances against the Twins, including 17 in relief, while posting a 1-0 record and a 3.74 ERA. 

Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 4.24 ERA) will oppose Hardy. Odorizzi has a loss and four no-decisions in his last five starts. He hasn't gone more than six innings in any of his outings this season. 

In his last start on Wednesday, Odorizzi allowed two runs and six hits in five innings to the Chicago White Sox. He's 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers. 

Molitor will continue to improvise with his lineup card as first baseman Joe Mauer (neck) and center fielder Byron Buxton (toe) remain on the disabled list during the series. 

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