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With perhaps the most frustrating road trip of their season in the rearview mirror [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/ryan-jensen-jersey]Authentic Ryan Jensen Jersey[/url] , the Minnesota Twins return home Thursday looking to get back on track in the opener of a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.

Minnesota went 1-8 on their I-94 excursion that began by dropping two of three to the Chicago White Sox and ended with sweeps by the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers. As a result, the Twins now sit 13 games under .500 and 12 games behind American League Central-leading Cleveland, holding down third place in the division.

“I think we’re all frustrated,” manager Paul Molitor said after the Brewers hit three solo home runs in a 3-2 victory over the Twins at Miller Park on Wednesday. “You win one game and you’re on the road for 10 days, playing good teams.

“We’re creating some of our own problems. At the same time, we’re not catching a lot of breaks. We’ll get home, looking forward to that. Have a nice homestand before the break. We’ll try to get these guys ready for a series with Baltimore tomorrow.”

The Twins will turn to Aaron Slegers (0-0, 3.38 ERA) for his first start of the season in the hopes of turning things around.

He has made just one other major league appearance this season, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings of relief May 30 at Kansas City. He has a 5.66 ERA in five career outings, including three starts, in the big leagues overall. Slegers has never faced Baltimore.

Like the Twins [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/vinny-curry-jersey]Authentic Vinny Curry Jersey[/url] , the Orioles come into the series looking to snap out of a slump. They have lost nine of their last 10 games, including two in a row to Philadelphia this week.

Manager Buck Showalter still has confidence his team can turn things around.

“There are some really good people in that locker room and I’d really like to see them get a return, but you can’t will it. You can’t just hope it,” said Showalter. “It’s got to be one pitch at a time. You can’t look at the big picture.”

Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.48) gets the start for Baltimore on Thursday, and he is looking for his first victory since May 21. He has a 3.21 ERA over his last five outings, four of which were quality starts.

Keeping the ball in the park has been a big reason for that recent run of success. Cashner had allowed 11 home runs through his first nine starts but only three over his last seven — and none his last time out when he held the Los Angeles Angels to a run on four hits and a pair of walks while striking out four over six innings of work.

“That’s what I try to do every time I take the mound, just keep the team in the game and grind it out, no matter if it’s pretty or ugly,” Cashner told the Baltimore Sun. “Just try to get through the seventh. Maybe next time I’ll get through the seventh. I thought I got stronger as I went along. The breaking stuff was better, the offspeed was better. Something to build on as we go and keep moving forward.”

Cashner will be making his first career start at Target Field but is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Twins [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/jonathan-allen-jersey]Authentic Jonathan Allen Jersey[/url] , who tagged him for five runs (four earned) over five innings on March 31 in Baltimore.

Rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta seems to make history every time he steps on the mound for the Milwaukee Brewers barely weeks into his major league career.

Fittingly enough, too, since he’s about to face a Cincinnati Reds pitching staff — mainly, reliever Michael Lorenzen — that is doing some pretty historic things themselves. Only with their bats and not their arms.

The 22-year-old Peralta is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his first four major league starts, including two in which he has struck out 10 or more and allowed only one hit. He’s the first pitcher in baseball’s live-ball ERA to do that, and the first Brewers pitcher to have two such games in a career.

How good has Peralta been? He has permitted more than two hits in only one of the four starts. In 22 2/3 innings, he has allowed only seven hits and struck out 35.

Peralta is the first major league pitcher since at least 1908 to give up three hits or fewer and strike out at least five in each of his first four career games.

“His stuff looks electric from center field, and you can see that in the swings and takes and called strikeouts,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich told reporters after Peralta pitched seven shutout innings of one-hit ball to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 on Tuesday. “He’s been great every time he goes out there, and hopefully that continues.”

Peralta is doing it without an overpowering fastball, like so many other young pitchers are today. He’s throwing his four-seam fastball at an average velocity of 91.2 mph [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/geron-christian-jersey]Authentic Geron Christian Jersey[/url] , or about what an average starter threw 15 years or so ago.

“He’s got a high spin rate and the ball just kind of jumps at you, even though it’s 92 mph,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

If the last-place Reds can get to Peralta on Sunday at Great American Ball Park — and no team has yet — they would split a four-game series in which they lost the first two games.

Cincinnati bounced back from a 3-2 deficit Saturday with an eight-run seventh inning powered by a pinch-grand slam from Lorenzen off a Jacobs Barnes fastball and went on to win 12-3 for its 10th victory in 13 games.

“Michael Lorenzen was pretty special,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Pinch-hit grand slams are rare enough. But by a pitcher?

What’s even more remarkable is Lorenzen also homered Friday night during an 8-2 Brewers victory, and he homered in his previous at-bat before that while pinch hitting against the Chicago Cubs on June 24.

“I love playing baseball,” Lorenzen said. “Every day, I look forward to contributing in some form.”

That’s three homers in the last three at-bats for Lorenzen, who’s quickly becoming the National League’s bullpen equivalent of the Angels’ multi-dimensional Shohei Ohtani.

Lorenzen is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 games, and he’s 4-for-6 at the plate. He’s the first pitcher with multiple pinch homers in a season since Brooks Kieschnick in 2003 — and he has done it in only a week.

“The guy’s swinging the bat really well, that’s for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We treat him as a position player. Obviously [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-miles-killebrew-jersey]Miles Killebrew Jersey[/url] , we’ve got to make some adjustments … he’s swinging it well.”

Then there’s this: No Reds pitcher had hit a grand slam in 59 years, or since Bob Purkey in 1959, until starter Anthony DeScalfani did it June 23 against the Cubs. Now, Reds pitchers have hit grand slams twice in eight days.

Lorenzen’s homer was more than enough for the Reds to overcome Eric Thames‘ 14th home run against them in the two seasons and his fourth this season — the first three of which were game-winners.

Only two of the Reds’ 15 hits Saturday were for extra bases — Lorenzen’s homer and a Scooter Gennett double — but they were 8-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Peralta will go up against veteran right-hander Matt Harvey (3-5), who has recently given the Reds a glimpse of his former dominating self with the New York Mets. He has won each of his last two starts, giving up three runs in 12 2/3 innings, after going 0-3 in his previous four starts.