P.J. Walters outdueled the Detroit Tigers’ Doug Fister in his season debut with the Minnesota Twins but unearned runs have helped spoil a pair of respectable outings for the right-hander recently.
Walters will try to keep his winless streak brief by helping the Twins top the Tigers and Fister again in Sunday’s series finale.
After being called up from the minors May 25, Walters (2-1, 2.49 ERA) gave up two runs over six innings in a 3-2 victory in Detroit on May 25. He earned another win in his next start but has come up short of victories in his past two outings.
Four of the five runs Walters has allowed in those starts have been unearned, and his teammates have given him just three runs of support after providing a combined 10 in his first two games.
He allowed two runs – one earned – in a season-high 7 1-3 innings Tuesday against Philadelphia but did not get a decision in a 3-2 win.
“(Walters) was fantastic,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s website. “He threw the ball great. He gave us our first great opportunity. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold it there.”
The Twins (30-35) will try to help Walters earn a win this time and claim their fourth victory in the last five home games against Detroit (37-29). Trevor Plouffe will seek to aid his team’s cause by building on his stellar return from a concussion and a strained left calf.
On his 27th birthday, the third baseman went 3 for 3 with a home run and three RBIs in a 6-3 win Saturday.
“It’s good to be back. I’ve been itching to come back and be back with the boys, especially this series against the Tigers. It’s a big series for us whenever we play them,” he said.
Fister (5-4, 3.28) will try to keep Plouffe from duplicating those efforts while snapping a hard-luck skid. The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer and pitched at least seven innings each of his last four starts but is 0-3 in those games.
Fister, who has been given a combined four runs of support, started that stretch with the loss to the Twins and Walters. He gave up three runs over seven innings in that game and allowed three over eight frames in a 3-2 defeat in Kansas City on Monday.
“Man, I feel so bad for him. He’s been pitching his butt off,” outfielder Torii Hunter told the team’s website. “We just can’t get a win for him right now. He keeps going out there, he keeps chucking the ball. Eventually, we’re going to get something going for him.”
Fister might have a chance to end his winless skid himself as he’s 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA in his last three starts against the Twins after going 1-6 with a 4.36 ERA in his first seven matchups.
With his help, Detroit will seek to earn only the seventh win in its last 19 road games. Prince Fielder will also try to provide a boost by improving on his .455 career average (5 for 11) against Walters.
The Tigers first baseman has also hit a pair of solo homers off the right-hander, and Joe Mauer has seven hits in his last 17 at-bats against Fister, including one home run.
Justin Morneau is 8 for 22 (.364) with three doubles and a home run all-time versus the right-hander.
Twins outfielder Josh Willingham is out of the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot in his balky left knee. He leads the team with 10 home runs.
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