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 with a 20-6 drubbing by the Twins on Friday night, and the Tigers will look to rebound in Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Target Field, while Minnesota will hope to continue playing spoiler.
The Twins will be starting a pair of rookies in the twin bill. In fact, the first game will pit two rookies against one another.
Right-hander Buck Farmer's August 13 Major League debut can't be considered a successful one for Detroit, but he'll get another look Saturday in the early game. Farmer threw five innings of four-run ball against the Pirates in his first start.
Farmer, a Georgia Tech product, was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and spent most of this season at Class A West Michigan.
"Obviously, we're not happy about it, but he pitched all right for us," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We've got to have somebody pitch.
"I know it was a bad outing, but still, it was just one outing," he said. "Hopefully it's an aberration."
In the nightcap, Detroit will get Justin Verlander back after he missed his last start with right shoulder inflammation. Ausmus said the former Cy Young Award winner won't be on any sort of pitch count as he returns.
"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."
Farmer's counterpart for the early game will be Minnesota's Yohan Pino, who will get called up from Triple-A Rochester to be the club's 26th man. He's coming off a strong start in which the right-hander surrendered only two runs off three hits over seven-plus innings to improve to 10-2 with a 2.47 ERA for Rochester.
Twins rookie right-hander Trevor May will make his third career start in the nightcap. May struggled with his control in his second start, a loss, allowing three runs off seven hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings.
Still, May is confident it gives him something to build off of.
"I definitely see an upward trend on where things are going," he 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."
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 will be making the trip north from Georgia to see him pitch.
• Detroit reliever Joakim Soria will throw Saturday. He's been out for nearly two weeks with a left oblique strain.
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.