Two division leaders meet: Twins vs. Rangers 5/28

By: Kelly Thesier/

MINNEAPOLIS — Nick Punto makes his return to the Twins lineup tonight after being sidelined with a sore ring finger as his club opens up a three-game series with the Rangers tonight.

Punto took early batting practice on Friday afternoon and got through it fine, so Gardenhire said he slotted him back in the lineup.

Kevin Slowey is on the mound for Minnesota and will see if he can get out of his season-long streak of running his pitch count up early in contests. Only once in Slowey’s nine starts has he lasted longer than 5 2/3 innings, which came in an eight-inning gem against the Indians on April 20.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked about Slowey’s inability to pitch deep into games before Friday’s contest and said the key will be for the right-hander to stop trying to make the “perfect pitch.”

“I’d like to see him pitch to more contact and get hitters to swing earlier in the count,” Gardenhire said. “To get some quicker innings and quicker outs instead of having 15 and 20 pitches every inning. It’s just about throwing quality pitches down in the zone and pitching to contact earlier in the game, and that will get you deeper in the game.”

Rangers (26-21)
Elvis Andrus, SS
Michael Young, 3B
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Vladimir Guerrero, DH
Josh Hamilton, LF
David Murphy, RF
Justin Smoak, 1B
Max Ramirez, C
Julio Borbon, CF
Pitching: RHP Colby Lewis (4-2, 3.45 ERA)


Denard Span, CF
Hudson, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jim Thome, DH
Jason Kubel, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nick Punto, 3B
Pitching: RHP Kevin Slowey (5-3,
4.53 ERA)

can follow me on Twitter  @kellythesier 

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