(Sports Network) - With their second straight American League Central title secured, the Minnesota Twins now turn their attention to finishing with the best record in the league. That quest starts this evening, when they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
The Twins wrapped up the division on Tuesday and enter tonight's tilt on the heels of sweeping the Cleveland Indians in a three-game series that culminated on Wednesday, when Jose Morales singled, doubled and knocked in three runs to back seven solid innings from Nick Blackburn in a 5-1 win.
Matt Tolbert and Ben Revere each added RBI singles for Minnesota, which is 17-4 in its last 21 games and at 92-60, is percentage points ahead of the Yankees for the best record in the American League.
Blackburn (10-10) yielded one run on five hits, struck out two and walked a pair.
"I knew the ball was coming out well and was getting a lot of groundball outs," Blackburn said about his outing.
Getting the call for the Twins tonight will be lefty Francisco Liriano, who was anointed the Game 1 starter for the Twins in the ALDS by manager Ron Gardenhire earlier in the week.
"Liriano has been throwing good, and you split up the lefties," Gardenhire said about the order. "So you put Pav (Carl Pavano) right in the middle of it. Liriano has been winging it pretty good."
Liriano, a front-runner for the American League's Comeback Player of the Year, has been brilliant for the Twins this season, having gone 14-8 with a 3.44 earned run average. However, he was awful in taking the loss last Sunday against Oakland, which battered him for five runs and seven hits in five innings.
"I was getting behind in the count. I think it was one of those days I didn't have my location," Liriano said. "I didn't have much luck [Sunday]."
Liriano is 4-3 lifetime against the Tigers with a 4.74 ERA in 15 games, 11 of which have been starts.
Detroit, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Justin Verlander, who is 17-8 with a 3.46 ERA. Verlander won his third straight start and fourth consecutive decision with a complete-game effort on Saturday in Chicago, as he held the White Sox to three runs and six hits while striking out eight and walking a batter.
Verlander is 6-7 lifetime against the Twins with a 4.02 ERA in 17 starts.
Detroit has won five of its last six after taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals. On Wednesday, Max Scherzer spun 7 2/3 scoreless innings and Brennan Boesch doubled in two runs to push Detroit to a 4-2 win in the rubber match of the three-game set.
Scherzer (12-10) allowed two hits, both to Gregor Blanco, walked two and fanned eight to grab his career-high 12th win.
"Wins are everything," said Scherzer. "It doesn't matter what the [playoff] scenario is, you have to go out and compete every day. You have to play for the team, nothing changes. You always have to go out there and compete."
Minnesota has won nine of its 15 matchups with the Tigers this season, but is just 2-4 in the six games contested in Detroit.