The Tigers will need to take care of business against out-of-contention teams like the Twins if they want to get to the postseason, starting with reclaiming an American League Wild Card spot as they chase the AL Central-leading Royals.
They fell out of the second AL Wild Card spot after a 20-6 drubbing at the hands of the Twins on Friday night. Following a 12-4 loss to Minnesota in Game 1 of the teams' day-night doubleheader at Target Field, the Tigers will get another shot to gain momentum in Saturday's nightcap. The Twins, meanwhile, will look to continue to play spoiler, as they seek a fourth straight win.
Minnesota will start its second rookie of the day, right-hander Trevor May, in Game 2. May, the organization's No. 8 prospect, according to MLB.com, will try to follow up on a solid showing by fellow first-year man Yohan Pino (five innings, one earned run).
It will be May's third career start and fourth career game, after getting called up earlier this month. He struggled with his control in his second start, a loss in which he allowed three runs on seven hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings against the Royals on Monday.
Still, it was an improvement over his only other Major League start (four runs in two innings on Aug. 9), and May is confident it gives him something to build upon.
"I definitely see an upward trend on where things are going," May said. "It's all stuff that's happened to me before in my career with rough patches. It's always about adjustments needing to be made."
At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, May boasts a frame similar to his opponent on Saturday night -- 6-foot-5, 225-pound Justin Verlander.
This will be Verlander's first start since Aug. 11. He missed one turn through the rotation, due to an inflamed right shoulder. But Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said the former Cy Young Award winner won't be on any sort of pitch count in his return.
"If we have a seven- or eight-run lead, it might be a time to not push it," Verlander said. "But if I feel good and it's a tight game, then it's not like I was on the DL and need to work my way back and do a pitch count. I mean, I missed one start. It's not that big of a deal."
That said, the Tigers could be looking for some length from Verlander. After Friday's disaster, Detroit needed quite a bit from its bullpen in the opener on Saturday, when starter Buck Farmer lasted just 1 1/3 innings, yielding seven runs. Recent callup Kyle Lobstein shouldered a significant load by throwing 5 2/3 innings.
Tigers: Sanchez says he's pain-free
The Tigers likely have to wait a couple weeks before they can return Anibal Sanchez to their rotation. His first throws Friday, however, gave them some encouragement.
Sanchez, out for the past couple weeks with a strained right pectoral muscle, made about 40 throws off flat ground -- essentially playing catch -- and said he had no discomfort.
"Definitely a really good sign that I don't feel any pain," Sanchez said. "Everything felt free. I let it go on a couple throws at the end and I didn't feel anything, either. Now I just continue to work and be back soon."
Sanchez will throw again between games of Saturday's day-night doubleheader -- again off flat ground, this time more throws.
Twins: Gardenhire says no plan for 2015 yet
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire downplayed a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that stated he'll return to manage the club in 2015.
Gardenhire, who is under contract through next season, said he hasn't officially discussed his future with Twins general manager Terry Ryan and won't until after the season.
"I don't pay attention to it," Gardenhire said. "I don't worry about it. I talk to Terry Ryan about it. We'll talk at the end of the year as always. Nothing has been talked about. I worry about that stuff when the season is over with."
Ryan told the newspaper that he expects Gardenhire to return and didn't retract his statement on Friday, but said that nothing has been determined yet.
• Farmer's father and brother made the trip north from Georgia to see him pitch.
• Detroit reliever Joakim Soria will throw on Saturday. He's been out for nearly two weeks with a left oblique strain.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.