DETROIT -- On Friday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire praised Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera as the "best hitter in the league" and labeled him as the obvious choice for this year's American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Prior to Saturday's game, the skipper announced how he's going to pitch to Cabrera.
"I know people pay to come watch this guy. I come to watch him walk to first base," Gardenhire said.
In other words, the Twins are going to take the cautious approach -- although walking Cabrera to bring up Prince Fielder, who has 27 home runs and 101 RBIs, isn't exactly cautious.
The strategy didn't come into play as Cabrera strolled to the plate with the bases empty in the fourth on Saturday. Cabrera connected for his 42nd homer off Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak -- tying him for the AL lead in homers with the Rangers' Josh Hamilton.
Cabrera entered Saturday one home run away from leading all three Triple Crown categories. Gardenhire admits it would be a remarkable feat, but with how close the division races are he isn't giving the Tigers' slugger any assistance.
"I think everybody knows I have total respect for the guy and I think he's the best player in our league, but when it comes down to winning and there's other teams involved here, you have to do what's right for baseball," Gardenhire said. "I can't worry about people wanting to see a Triple Crown winner."
Twins need rotation plan for Wednesday's game
DETROIT -- There's just something about the Twins playing in Detroit this season. Maybe Mother Nature just isn't a fan. Saturday marked the fifth straight contest between the clubs at Comerica Park delayed by weather.
During a four-game set from July 2-5, the final three games combined for five hours and 18 minutes of delays. And Friday night's game was rained out after two hours and 29 minutes of waiting.
For the Twins, the bad weather has provided both an opportunity and a disadvantage. For one, manager Ron Gardenhire worried about his bullpen prior to Friday's game.
"We're a little thin. We went through a lot," said Gardenhire as the Twins entered Detroit off a series in Cleveland, where they played two extra-innings games and the bullpen accounted for 13 2/3 innings.
With the day off due to Friday's postponement, the bullpen arms are fresher. But with the day-night doubleheader now being played on Sunday, it leaves the team without a starting pitcher for Wednesday against the Yankees.
Gardenhire had not yet decided which direction he'd go Saturday morning, but he laid out the options.
"We've got to figure something out for Wednesday," he said. "We're gonna use three guys here real quick and somebody's going to come back on short rest, or are we taking somebody out of the bullpen to start.
"Could probably get through [Sunday] and then we'll have to [choose] a guy. We use say, [Brian] Duensing or [Anthony] Swarzak, use them for two or three innings and then they'd be shut down for the first two games of the Yankees [series]."
Along with the right-hander Swarzak and the left-hander Duensing, Saturday's starter Samuel Deduno was also an option. However, he's the only pitcher of the three with no experience against the Yankees and he'd be going on short rest.
For the other two, Swarzak allowed a season-high six runs on April 19. Duensing, on the other hand, hasn't started vs. New York but combined for 1 2/3 scoreless innings in two games.
"If we went that way, whether it be Duensing or we bring back Sammy. We'll just see how everything goes," Gardenhire said.
Casilla ruled at fault for collision confusion
DETROIT -- Tigers right-hander Doug Fister shut down every Twins' attempt at a rally on Saturday. He didn't necessarily need help, but he got it on a questionable call by second-base umpire Brian O'Nora in the fifth inning.
The Twins trailed, 8-0, and second baseman Alexi Casilla doubled to lead off the fifth. Two batters later, Denard Span popped up to the center of the diamond, and as Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta drifted over the make the play he collided with Casilla and the ball touched the ground.
However, Casilla had trotted back to second with his back facing Peralta.
According to the Major League Baseball Rule 7.08(b): "A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he should not be called out, unless such hindrance, in the umpire's judgement ... is intentional."
Neither Twins manager Ron Gardenhire nor Casilla thought it was intentional, prompting the skipper to argue the call.
"He said Alexi has to make an effort to get out of the way," Gardenhire said. "I know the bag can't protect the runner. I know the runner has to make an effort to get out of the way. I don't know where he was supposed to go.
"Jhonny kind of screwed the pop fly up by coming in and then chasing it backwards. Then he ran over Lexi."
Casilla said he didn't make much of an effort to avoid the collision, but that's because he had no idea it was coming.
"I just went back to the bag and stayed on the bag. I didn't see him coming toward me because my face was looking straight to center field," he said. "I just felt him hit me and I tried to stay on the bag, but [O'Nora] called me out right away."
With the Twins in an eight-run hole, it certainly wasn't a game-changer. But it's quite possible it could've prevented the shutout, as Span would've been awarded first and Joe Mauer -- after Ben Revere's strikeout -- was due up.
Span thriving in return to top of Twins' lineup
DETROIT -- After what was basically a month-long absence for Denard Span, who had been sidelined with a sprained sternoclavicular joint, the outfielder is back and thriving atop the Twins' lineup.
Since returning from the disabled list, the 28-year-old was hitting .324 with two three-hit games entering Saturday's action. He's also hit safely in seven of eight contests. With a career .356 average against the Tigers, that success is expected to continue.
"He's your prototypical leadoff guy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He knows what he's doing up there. He's not afraid to see pitches. That gives everybody else a chance to see pitches. ... When he's up there at the top of the lineup for us he's a good starter, a really good starter. And we just go from there."
After dealing with a concussion and missing most of the second half in 2011, Span has put together a decent comeback campaign. His season average entering Saturday stood at .289 to go with 16 stolen bases and a career-high 36 doubles.
His numbers aren't all the way back - that's partly due to his injury -- but Span's shown promise for the 2013 season. And so has the 1-2 punch of Span and Ben Revere batting in front of Joe Mauer.
"It's been a lot of fun having [Span] back and just hitting behind him," Revere said. "We just both get on base and cause real chaos on the basepaths for the defense. ... I just tell him, 'You want to steal go ahead. I'll protect you,' and he just goes, 'Man, you do your thing.' So I just swing away and we cause havoc."
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.