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HOU@DET: Scherzer pitches eight scoreless innings

After facing former American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in the first game of the series on Friday night, it doesn't get any easier for the Twins on Saturday with another former Cy Young Award winner on the mound for the Tigers.

The Twins took the first game of the series with a 2-1 victory, but they are set to face right-hander Max Scherzer, who is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season.

Scherzer is off to another impressive start this year -- 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in seven starts. He's also struck out 60 batters in 47 innings to lead the AL in strikeouts.

"The Tigers are the team to beat right now, and most of it starts with that starting pitching," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're pretty solid. You know just about every time you face them, you're going to see good pitching."

Right-hander Kyle Gibson gets the nod for the Twins and is also off to a good start with a 3.50 ERA in six outings, but he's never faced the Tigers in his career. He's coming off a solid outing against the Indians -- giving up just two hits over seven scoreless innings on Monday.

"It was probably the best I've felt all year," Gibson said. "I don't know if I did too much different out there, just one of those nights they were hitting balls at guys and they were hitting fly balls. Thankfully the wind was blowing in, otherwise I'd have given up a couple doubles."

The Twins could also get a boost on Saturday, as first baseman Joe Mauer could return to action. He left Sunday's game with lower back spasms and hasn't played since, but the Twins are hopeful he'll return this weekend.

"I would love to have him, but if he's not healthy, he's not going to help us," Gardenhire said. "We're trying to make a decision here and give him every bit of time we can because if he is healthy and can come back Saturday or Sunday, it's better than the DL because then he'd be out most of next week, too. So, we're trying to do that. We're getting by, but you can only do that so long."

Twins: Reinforcements arrive in Hicks and Parmelee
The Twins reinstated outfielder Aaron Hicks from the seven-day concussion disabled list and promoted first baseman/outfielder Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Rochester on Friday.

The moves came after the Twins optioned catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann and shortstop Pedro Florimon to Rochester on Thursday.

"We were getting pretty thin," Gardenhire said. "We actually have a bench and three outfielders in the outfield, which is a good thing."

Tigers: Anibal eying return on May 18
Right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who continues to recover from a finger laceration, said that the target date for his return is the series finale against the Red Sox on May 18 at Fenway Park. Sanchez had been scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, but he ended up long tossing instead and expected to throw a side session on Friday.

"We talk about probably next Sunday, but I don't know yet," Sanchez said.

Worth noting
• The Tigers went 11-8 against the Twins in 2013, and split their two games in Minnesota earlier this season with the game slated for April 27 postponed due to rain. The Twins and Tigers are set to make up that game as part of a split-doubleheader on Aug. 23.

• Twins outfielder Josh Willingham is set to take batting practice on the field on Saturday to mark the first time he's been able to do that since going on the 15-day disabled list on April 7 with a small fracture in his left wrist. Willingham is expected to go out on a rehab assignment once he's cleared to play, as he hasn't played in a game for more than a month.

• Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez saw his 11-game hitting streak end on Friday with an 0-for-4 night.

• Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki picked up two more RBIs with a two-run single in the seventh against the Tigers in Friday's win. Suzuki now has 24 RBIs to lead all Major League catchers.

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