By JACK CASSIDY STATS Writer

(AP) – The Minnesota Twins are the hottest team in the AL Central, and that’s been without much help from staff ace Phil Hughes.

The Oakland Athletics don’t figure to grant Hughes any favors on Monday night when they look to continue their offensive dominance in Minnesota.

Hughes (0-4, 4.55 ERA) earned a five-year contract after going 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA in a career-high 209 2-3 innings last season, but has failed to impress thus far in 2015. The Twins (13-12) have dropped all five of Hughes’ starts this season, and due to a left hip flexor strain, Hughes lasted a season-low five innings while allowing three runs and seven hits in a 10-7 loss to Detroit on Wednesday.

Hughes’ home run rate has been his most concerning statistic. The right-hander posted his first homer-free outing Wednesday, yet still ranks among the worst starters in the AL with six home runs allowed.

The Twins have won four straight since Hughes’ last start and broke out for 13 runs against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Trevor Plouffe and Kennys Vargas each hit home runs, and Minnesota’s bullpen worked 5 2-3 scoreless innings.

“We were doing a lot of stuff with a fungo, things we hadn’t been doing previously,” Plouffe said of his team’s improved offense. “We did that a lot and fixed what we needed to fix. So we said let’s back off now and just go up there and hit. That’s what we’ve been doing the last couple of days.”

A fifth consecutive victory would mark the Twins’ longest winning streak since reeling off five straight from April 15-23, 2013.

Oakland (11-15) also enjoyed a strong offensive day Sunday, winning 7-1 over Texas. Stephen Vogt upped his OPS to 1.126 with two home runs, leading the Athletics to their third consecutive seven-run game.

The wins haven’t exactly followed the production, however. The Athletics rank among the league leaders with 131 runs scored, yet their 15 losses are tied for second-most in the AL.

They could turn it around at Target Field, where they’ve beating the Twins in eight of the last nine meetings while scoring 8.2 runs per game in that span.

Jesse Hahn (1-1, 2.86) will take the mound for the Athletics, looking to continue his solid run with Oakland. The right-hander, who was acquired from San Diego in the offseason, has yet to allow more than three runs in a start, walked four in his four starts and surrendered only 3.3 hits per game in his last three.

Still, after allowing three runs in five innings to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday without receiving a decision in Oakland’s 6-3 loss, manager Bob Melvin expects more out of Hahn moving forward.

“He was a little bit rusty at times in where he was throwing the ball, but overall, we knew we were going 90 pitches with him,” Melvin said. “He’ll be sharper next time out.”

Billy Butler is in the midst of an 0-for-20 slump, and was held out of Sunday’s win. Ben Zobrist is hitting .050 lifetime versus Hughes – his worst mark against any pitcher with at least 20 at-bats.

Updated May 3, 2015

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