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DET@TOR: Dickey hangs tough for seven innings

With Toronto's talent starting to mesh, manager John Gibbons believes it's entirely possible for the Blue Jays to put together another winning streak.

The Blue Jays won 11 in a row in mid-June, and will look to make it two straight on Saturday after taking the series opener against Minnesota on Friday night. The Twins have now lost six in a row after being swept by the Yankees this week at Target Field.

"Eleven's a lot at this level, but we did it once," Gibbons said. "And we need to do it -- let's be realistic. Through that nice streak, they were all pitching well. That was the thing. Turn them over and they were all pitching well, giving us a shot, and that's what that takes. And you have some slugfests, so you have to swing it, too."

The Twins are kicking off a 10-game road trip after going 2-6 on their last homestand. With trips to Toronto, Tampa Bay and New York, things are not getting any easier. Minnesota already has a 6-12 record against the American League East this year.

"Before the homestead, our goal was to go and play well at home, and we started out OK against the Royals and then lost the last one, which was a tough one, and then the Yankees pretty much handed it to us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So that was really disappointing. So now we have to turn the page. This is a Toronto team that can really swing it. They hit balls all over the place. So we know we have to pitch well and the offense needs to start picking up these runs."

Minnesota is just 3-9 in its last 12 games at Rogers Centre, and has now dropped five straight in Toronto. The Twins' last win in Toronto came April 3, 2011, in the opening series of that season.

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey gets the start on Saturday for the Blue Jays, while right-hander Mike Pelfrey will take the mound for Minnesota.

"These next nine games are very very important to us," said Gibbons, whose squad also has series against the Indians and Orioles before the All-Star Break. "I said [Thursday], we'll have a better idea where we're at, I would think, going into the All-Star Game. Going up against some pretty good teams and we're struggling lately. We definitely need to kick it in, that's for sure."

Blue Jays: Dickey heating up
Dickey has thrown quality starts in both of his last two outings, primarily because his velocity has been higher. His knuckleball is dancing in the 78-82-mph range, giving him better command of the strike zone.

He's 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA in his career against the Twins.

Twins: Pelfrey back, healthy
Pelfrey starts Saturday after being reinstated from the disabled list on Friday. He was out with a back strain and made one rehab start with Class A Cedar Rapids, where he allowed two runs on two hits over six innings.

"He went six innings and was planning on going just four innings to watch his pitch count, but the kids were just hacking," Gardenhire said. "But it was expected by me that they would be swinging."

Worth noting
• The Twins bullpen has posted an ERA of 2.46 (16 earned runs in 58 1/3 innings) over its last 17 road games, dating back to May 24.

• The Blue Jays are 9-11 against the AL Central this year and 5-7 at home. Comments