Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson has been dominant inside the friendly confines of Target Field. But when the right-hander travels to another team's ballpark, as he will on Friday in the first of three against Detroit, he has looked like a completely different player.
Gibson, who likely owns some of the most contrasting home-road splits in baseball this season, has gone 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA at home. In six away games, he has a 1-4 record and 7.39 ERA, with opposing batters hitting .292 with four home runs against him.
Gibson's last start against the Tigers on May 10 -- arguably his worst of the year -- saw him last just two innings while giving up six runs on seven hits at Comerica Park.
"I don't know what it is, but I'm just comfortable throwing [at Target Field]," Gibson said after throwing seven shutout innings against the Astros on Saturday. "I'm definitely comfortable throwing on the road, as well. I don't think the numbers are really in my head. I'm still making pitches on the road, but maybe not in as big of situations as I have at home."
But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes the actual performances have not been as ugly as the numbers imply. And if Gibson can learn how to stop the bleeding when he gets into trouble on the road, his skipper thinks the splits will begin to even out.
"He's actually thrown the ball pretty well on the road for us a couple times and just can't stay away from the one big inning," Gardenhire said last week. "We've said all along, he seems to be able to make a pitch at home and hasn't been able to figure that out yet on the road and having that one big inning where it hurts you."
The Tigers will counter on Friday with Drew Smyly.
He was originally scheduled to start on Wednesday, but his turn was skipped after Tuesday's game in Chicago was rained out and both starting pitchers for that game (Verlander for the Tigers) were pushed back to Wednesday.
Smyly started June off on the right foot, tossing six innings of two-run ball on June 6 against the Red Sox. It was the first time he made it through six innings in a start since May 13 in Baltimore, which was four starts prior. He had a 4.32 ERA in 7 may apperances (six starts).
"I think I was throwing too many good strikes," Smyly said. "It didn't really affect me. My mindset was the same -- just keep throwing strikes."
Twins: Fuld could be activated from DL soon
Center fielder Sam Fuld could be activated from the 15-day disabled list this weekend.
Fuld has been out since May 7 with a concussion but has been faring well in his rehab assignment with Double-A New Britain, homering on Tuesday. He could replace Aaron Hicks if he should head to the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder.
"I wouldn't rule it out," Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "I think he's getting to the point where he's having consistent days with no problems and no side effects or recurring headaches. He's swinging the bat fine. He had a leadoff home run yesterday."
Tigers: Veterans must get things in sync
Tigers bench coach Gene Lamont has seen his fair share of rough patches. Detroit, which looked like it would run away with the American League Central through the first six weeks of the season, has since fallen on tough times.
The Tigers are 7-16 in their last 23 games and have struggled to stay in sync.
"Usually when you have a long streak where you don't play well, it's hard to point to just one thing," Lamont said. "There's been guys who haven't scored, our starting pitching at times, our bullpen, our defense. It's been a combination of things. We like to think when we break out, we'll all break out together."
Lamont is confident the veteran clubhouse will get things together soon.
"I think if you have a real young team that hasn't been through something like that and has never been on a winning team, it probably makes it tougher," he said. "I think we're confident, but we have to make something happen to come out of it."
• The Twins are 3-2 against the Tigers and 11-10 against AL Central opponents this season. They went 8-11 against Detroit in 2013.
• Gardenhire said he has no plans to move Joe Mauer from his No. 3 spot in the lineup despite his recent struggles at the plate. Gardenhire remains optimistic Mauer will snap out of his slump, and he doesn't feel like moving him in the lineup will change anything.
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.